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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.


Sent Saturday 3rd June 1989

"Hi Tony [Mac]. Thanks for your message in which you raised issues re you and Cathy. I am somewhat confused and Janet [Slovo] told me in a recent discussion that you had indicated to her that you could be at Cathy's on your way out. She also said that the decision for you to return where you are now after a month's break with us came entirely from your side and that not only did she and co. not instruct you to be there, they do not feel they have any right to instruct you one way or another. Is this true? If so, I'm surprised I was not even consulted as to whether the kids and I are able to continue to cope in trying circumstances for another indefinite period of time. How do you envisage us in this scheme of things? No doubt you wee planning to discuss all this on holiday but it would be useful to me now to have some idea of how the land lies. I would have preferred to raise this in a TK but since January have been clueless about the comings and goings of John. Janet returns only next week and Leo I don't know when. Meanwhile, I'll begin the passport search. Take care, all our love to you. We miss you too. Elsa [Zarina[, He-man and Shira".

Received Sunday 4th June 1989

Dearest Elsa [Zarina]. Many thanks for message but so many crossed lines. I'm trying to work out how to come out safely. At one point I received advice that I should come out for two months, both to be with you and kids and to get out of the enemy way for security reasons (including their view that the legend was fraying and hence to reinforce the legend) and for discussions. This was from Janet and confirmed in subsequent message from Alphons. At this end I have been assuming matters are being discussed from time to time with you. So for the moment I don't know how to respond to your question "How do you envisage us in this scheme of things?" But for the present I have applied for b/d passport which should enable me to exit. The issue of where to exit – 1st Janet suggested via India to Big S (so as to meet all the considerations above). I queried the reason why India, why not UK (trying to work out which would be safest and least detectable by enemy and hostile forces and above all trying to work out how to do it – and all this is left to me with my own resources. I'm not complaining, but one lives on one's nerves, and I recall even saying to Janet I think at one stage, that exiting and re-entry makes me even more nervous than being here in the midst of constant security scares.) However, please bear with me as I try to work all this out like how, routes, legends. It's a b/d passport – I cross fingers I can get it soon enough to be with you in UK, but no way to say when it'll come beyond b/d dealers words. Still let's get lines uncrossed and work to meet. All love to He-man, Shira and you, always.

Sent Monday 5th June 1989

Message No. 2.

Here's Elsa's (dictated 5th) reply to your message to her:

"Hi again Tony. Lines certainly have been crossed! Janet [Slovo] added that if it had been your intention to return to Raymond's with us he would have suggested meeting them there for our discussion, so keeping our holiday intact and undisturbed. She also said you already have the necessary travel documents to reach Cathy's. To be fair though, I was informed after December and then in March about a holiday with you, but she qualified this by saying it might not…[??] in any case do a [soonish??] to return here. More interesting though is that I have found and renewed your passport for two years with a visa which expires on 29th of next [?] month and can only be renewed if you sign the application in the presence of the relevant officer. The consul who helped you last time has left so they won't budge on that one. I've gained some breathing space by having offered to seek an appointment with a reputable orthopaedic specialist of my own choice which is true rather than using UNDP's SOS system. But with Geneva's attitude they've never forgiven me for exposing their shoddy work. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to store the medical evacuation beyond the time expected to get an appointment. They – T[?] that is – are already hassling UNDP for all kinds of proof that I need to be on sick leave, let alone go to Cathy's. So I would prefer my treatment to be over by the 26th of July which is when my contract with them expires. I can understand the tensions under which you are all anxiously await. Don't take risks. It's better to keep me posted about problems re your route etc etc so that together we can work out something. Elsa [Zarina] and the little ones.

Received Wednesday 7th June 1989

Thanks Elsa [Mac]. Great you have passport. Share with A [Tambo]&J [Slovo]: am awaiting passport. Present thinking is exit via Mauritius to India to Big S. Have checked how George's friend used this route and find there was a problem in India i.e. how to avoid passenger list of flight reflecting name of passport used for trip? India does not stamp SA passports but airlines demand production of passport. But looking into this part. Nest: Will need about two weeks plus help of Big S to change appearance to "normality" before appearing in UK. - maybe a few days less at a push. In this regard, what is minimum time you require to get appointment etc for your med – 'cos Janet says Alphons would like us to be at Big S in August. Query: does Big S offer for this period include Elsa and the little people? NB: all this meant simply to help me work out best route, ensure synchronizing with Elsa etc. How do A&J feel about these plans re maintaining legend etc., timing, their movements and needs etc. Miss you all very much, bit nervous, but looking forward. Tony [Mac].

Received Wednesday 21st June 1989

Wed:. To Elsa [Zarina] : Hi Boksa, He-man and Shira: At last I begin to feel that our reunion will really be effected. Have received prelim notice wh indicates that p/port will definitely come to hand – now just a matter of time ) hopefully, will get it in days). On this basis have begun looking at timetables of flights to get the right fit to enable me to get to Big S. Have asked Ken to look into bookings, flights and ticket for last leg ie Bombay/new Delhi to Moscow, while we here are looking at how to get to B/ND. Pls share details with A&J and Leo and tell J to ensure immediately that Ken has funds to pay for B to Moscow ticket. Also J will have to ensure entry to Big S. Travelling name will be E. SHEIK. Bit question is now exact date for travellling on the respective legs and how to match this with your plans. How far have you gone re treatment in UK esp re booking dates for this? I have to spend some time with Big S getting back normal appearance. Will it be possible for you and kids to join me there and we then travel from there to UK. You have certain deadlines re employers as to when ; also there is expiry date of my entry visa to UK. Pls advise how these fit. Depending on flights and availability of seats I think it seems I can be in Big S within 1st week of July; perhaps appearance issue with expert help could be sorted in a week. Wld be wonderful if could join me at Big S. Pls advise how you folks see all this. Legend could be that I am released from hosp pending further treatment. Sorry this note has taken all space on these details. Am asking Ken to keep your Jan disk for me to read when I get out – but at same time anxious to hear from you and how you are keeping. Above all aching to gather the three of you in my arms. Touch wood that there be no slip between cup and lip. Deepest love Tony. [Mac]

Sent Wednesday 21st June 1989

Elsa [Zarina] to Tony [Mac]:

Thanks for the info. Shall search again for manuscripts when there's breathing space – the first hunt was unsuccessful. Still being at Raymond's is becoming slightly difficult but I think I can just push it for another couple of weeks or so. Let me know soonest the precise date you can reach Cathy's so that I can confirm one of several appointments. Flights here are full so will make reservations for alternative dates. We're so looking forward to the reunion.

All love, Elsa and the littles

Sent Tuesday 27th June 1989

Elsa 23/6

Hallo again Tony, thanks a lot for last message received yesterday. My requested appointment with orthopaedic man for Friday 14 July was confirmed two day ago and so I went ahead to confirm flight on 11 July arriving Cathy on Wed 12 July. Simply only seats available till October are first class. UNDP have specially telexed Geneva requesting that I fly first class. So it would now be difficult to cancel current arrangements unless permission is refused. From what you say there is anyway a good chance of your being in UK by 12th. So let's target for that. This will also give me space to sort out a few matters before I leave. Your visa expires on 29 June so you will have to get it renewed in Big S or India. I had indicated there would be no problem in getting your passport to you. Hope all this OK with you but will keep you posted of any changes. Could you ask Charles to enlist Ish's help to find us small flat to rent in London for about 3 weeks from about 12th? A and J and Leo all out but back next week. Excited that in less than a month we'll be together again! Fondest love Elsa and Co.

Received Thursday 29th June 1989

Thurs 29 Jun 4.30 a.m. Urgent: Dearest Elsa [Zarina] : Have just woken with a start. Suddenly realized I shall be delayed at Big S by the Brits if I do not have 4 passport sized photos based on my normal appearance! This means that I shall have to wait to start growing beard etc on arrival at Big S and then wait until it has grown sufficiently before taking photos and then applying to the Brits! Sorry that I have to throw you into a tizz by asking you to do as search for any old passport size photos of me and ensuring that Leo sends these to Big S so that these are there on my arrival at Big S on 8th July. I don't envy you because I wouldn't know where to start looking for these. And I am sure you have more than enough on your plate preparing to get to UK. I cannot start growing my beard earlier as colour, etc would clash with age etc on passport I shall be using! (Crikey, how complicated life becomes!) Thanks for note – have asked Ken to pass message to Ish. I hope they can move on finding us a flat – it will be the height of the British summer. I don't know how you and he-man and Shira feel, but I am getting all psyched up at the prospect of being with you – late as it is due to work pressure my mind is suddenly getting into gear going through all the details that would make joining you successful and timeous. All love and keep well, Tony [Mac].

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