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La Grange: I loved Madiba deeply

Zelda la Grange has shared her memories of Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela walks with the help of his assistant private secretary Zelda le Grange to the auditorium at Mandela House in Johannesburg where the first instalment of the Madiba Legacy Series consisting of nine comic books telling the story of his life was launched, Friday, 28 October 2005. Picture: SAPA

CAPE TOWN - Nelson Mandela's former assistant Zelda la Grange has shared her memories of the late global icon.

Madiba passed away at his home in Houghton in northern Johannesburg on Thursday night at the age of 95.

La Grange told the Redi Tlhabi Show that she was overcome by a feeling of loss.

"I don't think you are ever prepared enough. You are still shocked and saddened when that time comes. We prepared ourselves emotionally, but still we are overcome by this feeling of loss and sadness."

She says she made a decision to stop visiting Madiba when his condition worsened.

"A few months ago I actually made a decision not to go any longer because I wanted to remember him the way I knew him. It was hard to see someone deteriorating health-wise like that, especially a person that was so independent and proud throughout his life. I also made that decision out of respect for the family."

La Grange explains she made sure to say her goodbyes to Madiba.

"Every time I went over the last few months, I made sure that I said what I wanted to say goodbye, and that gives me some comfort. I said what needed to be said."

La Grange says she will always cherish their relationship.

"I deeply loved him because of having worked for him for so long."

Over 70 heads of states will attend the official memorial service at the FNB Stadium on Tuesday.

A traditional ceremony will take place on Saturday.

The former statesman will be laid to rest in Qunu next Sunday.