As the 13th Nelson Mandela Day is celebrated this year, a former bodyguard of the iconic president has spoken out about how disappointed Madiba would be at the current state of the country.
Speaking frankly from his home in Sandton, Lingaraj Moonsamy, fondly referred to as Linga, had been one of the President’s bodyguards from 1994 to 1999, a position he speaks proudly about.
“Nelson Mandela, a man I called thatha (which is grandfather in Tamil language) was a man of great stature.
“He lived his life as a leading example.
“To see what has become of South Africa, I am of the opinion that Madiba would be turning in his grave,” he said.
For five years Moonsamy was among those whose job was to protect the president, but he only has good stories to tell.
“Madiba was all about people, especially children, he loved children.
“Half the money he earned went to donating and improving the lives of children.
“Which is how the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation was formed,” he said.
Moonsamy said Madiba had a deep respect for anyone and everyone he met.
“He knew every member of our families, all our intimate details and went out of his way to familiarise himself and to be kind enough to ask about our families,” he said.
So much so, that protecting Madiba was not an easy job, said Moonsamy, laughing.
“He would just openly hug children and go as far as breaking protocol in terms of security breaching, which made it difficult for us,” he said.
Speaking about the affairs of the country and particularly the ANC, Moonsamy said it was a sad state.
“Everything is falling apart. Looking at the high levels of unemployment, road infrastructure failures, inner politics within the ANC.
“This is not what the Old Guard stood for, the people who fought hard for the freedom of this country,” he said.
Moonsamy said South Africans were living in fear because of the high crime rate.
“When I grew up in Lenasia, we lived freely, now if you drive past there everything is surrounded by high brick walls.
“You are scared to break down with your car in fear of being robbed. Women are vulnerable in society,” he said.
When asked what needs to be done, Moonsamy said South Africans needed to fight these ills with the same spirit it took to fight apartheid.
“I don’t think South Africans are patriotic enough to fight tooth and nail for South Africa.
“We rather take videos and circulate them.
“There is a moral decay in society, we need to go back to grassroots living, and understanding the basics of right and wrong,” Moonsamy said.
Speaking about the recent VIP blue light assault video of officers assaulting motorists on a public highway, Moonsamy described the act as thuggery and barbaric.
“We also used blue lights, but it was on a need to have basis and not a nice to have.
“When we drove with Madiba, unless there was traffic, we only used the blue light.
“We had to carry ourselves with a level of decorum because that is what the President espoused.
“If we tried to push people away from him during a public engagement he would tell us so,” he said.
And we would never brandish our firearm, said Moonsamy.