“I secretly went to Madiba and told him that Walter will one day die and we need an obituary. I told him it was to be written by you.”
Maharaj was speaking at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg about his comrade Madiba.
“I then went to Walter telling him Madiba will one day die and he must write his obituary. Like Mandela he asked: Why me?” he told the audience who had gathered to hear him reminisce about Mandela.
He said he promised both that the obituary would be locked in a safe.
“When Walter passed on the obituary was published. And now Mandela’s obituary has been published. This is one secret I have to confess to,” he told a laughing crowd.
Maharaj said Mandela was a man of laughter.
“At one moment [opposition leader] Tony Leon wrote to him saying his (Mandela’s) government was goofy… When Leon was in hospital Mandela visited him and said Micky Mouse, it is Goofy,” he told the crowd.
Earlier ANC national executive member Joel Netshitenzhe said Mandela insisted on wearing the same shirt for two days, arguing that it was not dirty.
He said when you borrowed a newspaper from Mandela you had to return it neatly intact or Mandela would ask whether it was the same paper you had borrowed from him.
Netshitenzhe said he viewed Mandela’s body lying in state at the Union Building in Pretoria.
“It was an unpleasant moment to see this towering body lying silent…”
Netshitenzhe said Mandela believed in nation-building, reconciliation and development.
Mandela died on December 5 at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg.
He will be buried in Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday.