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Constand Viljoen remembers Madiba

Former FF leader Constand Viljoen has praised Madiba calling him a man of character.

The late Nelson Mandela. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Former Freedom Front leader Constand Viljoen says the late Nelson Mandela was a man of character.

Viljoen paid tribute to the former statesman who passed away peacefully at his home last Thursday.

Viljoen told the Redi Tlhabi Show they were apprehensive before the 1994 elections.

"Before the 1994 elections we were very much divided in the Afrikaner people. We watched FW de Klerk, who in our opinion was just caving in, giving away our freedom. As the Afrikaner people our freedom meant a lot. We lost in in the Ango-Boer War and it took a long time before we regained it. So the people were just not prepared to give in."

He says his first meeting with Madiba changed his views about the man.

"Mr Mandela proved to be a man of character with whom we could negotiate the future of the Afrikaner people."

Meanwhile, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi also paid tribute to Mandela.

He said Madiba included him in his cabinet even though they were in different parties.

"He went the extra mile by appointing me as acting president when he and the deputy president were out of the country. He was not obliged to do that but he did. That is the kind of relationship that we had."

In Pretoria, dignitaries and the Mandela family have gathered at the Union Buildings where his remains will lay for three days.

His family have viewed his body which was transported from the 1 Military Hospital earlier.

Madiba will be laid to rest in Qunu on Sunday.