‘Hello Captain Lucas, how are you doing?’

2013-12-07 00:00

LUCAS Holtzhausen, the former head of the South African Police Services VIP unit in Pietermaritzburg, has fond memories of Madiba.

Tasked with providing protection for the newly released president of the ANC in 1990, Holtzhausen said he had no idea what protocol to follow for Madiba’s visit to Pietermaritzburg.

“When we [SAPS] were informed that he was coming to the Midlands, I phoned the SAPS headquarters to ask them for advice. They told me to do what I think is necessary. I then consulted the district commandant, the late Brigadier Wolhuter, and he said that whatever I do there must be no violence during his visit. I was given an SAPS helicopter and wherever Mandela went, I went with him, with a strong contingent of Reaction Unit members. At the end, he came to me, shook my hand and in his very remarkable voice thanked us for looking after him,” said Holtzhausen.

A few years later when Mandela was given the Freedom of Pietermaritzburg and returned as state president, Holtzhausen said he was amazed that Madiba remembered him.

“When he got out of the aircraft, he came straight to me and said, ‘Hello, Captain Lucas, how are you doing?’ I was honoured that he remembered me although he was swamped with supporters and had such a busy year during the elections,” said Holtzhausen.

It was during that visit, Holtzhausen recalls the violent threat presented by right wing extremists and the quick action that saved the day.

“Members of the AWB had lined up outside the city hall near the Tatham Art Gallery and were threatening to disrupt things. We contained them with the help of the dog unit and the then head of traffic, Tony Brixter, and I agreed to open the road to traffic so there was no chance of the AWB guys crossing the road,” said Holtzhausen.

Another highlight for him was again during that trip, fending off the AWB members in Howick, when Mandela was en route to point out the spot where he was captured.

“We kept driving around in Howick until we got the dog unit to physically remove the AWB members from the road so we could pass,” said Holtzhausen.

He said during those moments when he was with Mandela, he was always aware of a “special aura” around him.

“There was this energy that he gave off … there was no mistaking that he was special. Rest in peace Nelson Mandela,” said Holtz­hausen.

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