Ms Schoeman said last Friday was a sad day in waking up to the news that the famed leader had died and she immediate thought back to the two weeks she spent caring for Mr Mandela.
She had worked as a nurse on Robben Island but had transferred to Volks Hospital in Cape Town. It was not long after the move that authorities were looking for a safe hospital where Mr Mandela could have surgery.
‘Nelson Mandela needed an operation and as he was shortly due for release, they need a safe hospital for him to come to and decided to bring him to Volks where I was,’ she said.
‘They relieved me of my normal nursing duties to look after him.’
Ms Schoeman said it was a privilege to care for Mr Mandela but she treated him no different to any other patient.
‘He was the biggest political prisoner in South Africa but to me he was another patient who needed care. He was a wonderful and generous person,’ she said.
Ms Schoeman is a nurse at Rockingham General Hospital after moving to Australia in 1996 and she still possesses a card that Mr Mandela left for her and other hospital staff when he was discharged. ‘After what he endured, after being incarcerated for so long, he was incredible,’ she said.
Ms Schoeman said she was humbled to be mentioned in the bestselling biography Goodbye Bafana: Nelson Mandela, My Prisoner, My Friend written by prison guard James Gregory.