Oppenheimer shares Madiba memories

The mining magnate says The Freedom Charter is one of Madiba’s greatest legacies.

Anti-apartheid leader and African National Congress (ANC) member Nelson Mandela smiles as he poses during a photo session after his first press conference since his release from jail on 12 February 1990 in Cape Town. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Mining magnate Nicky Oppenheimer on Thursday added his voice to the chorus of tributes for former president Nelson Mandela.

Madiba passed away peacefully at his Houghton home in northern Johannesburg at 8.50pm on Thursday.

President Jacob Zuma made the announcement shortly before midnight.

Oppenheimer said Mandela stood for South Africans from all walks of life.

The former De Beers chairperson shared one of his fondest memories of the late statesman.

"He certainly managed and manipulated me - with my approval," he joked.

"One of my fondest memories of him is being taken to a hospital in rural KwaZulu-Natal. He stood up in front of a huge crowd of people where upon he told them the hospital was in an extremely poor way, which it was. He brought me there to see that, and I was going to make sure it was fixed."

Mandela was renowned for his ability to convince businesspeople to build schools and hospitals in poor areas, Oppenheimer explains.

"He had such a splendid look on his face as he said this."

Oppenheimer says The Freedom Charter and its role in the formation of a democratic South Africa is one of Madiba's greatest legacies.

The influential family had a long history of friendship with Mandela, with patriarch Harry Oppenheimer assisting him with funding before his incarceration.