A FORMER bodyguard to ex-South African leader Nelson Mandela has championed peace and reconciliation during a speech at Poole’s Parkstone Grammar School.

Chris Lubbe, whose appearance was secured as part of a series of lectures set for the Sopers Lane girls’ school, spoke for an hour on growing up in a racially divided country during the inhumane Apartheid regime, and subsequently working with the late Mr Mandela - a man Chris readily admits was his hero.

After being trained by the SAS post-Apartheid, Chris recalled coming face-to-face with a white South African security operative who had previously tortured him in prison.

“Now I’m thinking revenge is sweet,” Chris told the audience. “I’ve got a Glock pistol and a submachine gun and I’m thinking, I’m going to blow your head off. And my colleagues were thinking the same.

“But, of course, Nelson Mandela had other ideas. He wanted us all to embark on a voyage of forgiveness. He wanted us to start afresh, to start learning to work together as South Africans.

“Nelson Mandela led by example - he was arrested and put in prison for 27 years. When he came out he was able to forgive the people who had treated him so harshly. He was determined that we had to learn to forgive, and he led the life of forgiveness.” Chris later forgave the man who tortured him.

Earlier in the lecture he told those packed into the school hall how his family was frogmarched, at gunpoint off their land when he was a young child. The ruling white authorities later built a white only resort on the site.

He also spoke of how his diabetic mother ended up in a coma, after she fell ill on his first bus trip from their shanty town to Durban city centre. Despite young Chris’ pleas, the driver could not stop in the designated white area for fear of arrest.

When he was able to pull over, the driver helped sit Chris’ mum on a bench to aid her recovery - but the seat was a designated white only bench and when a police patrol passed by they hurled his sick mother onto the pavement. She hit her head and spent more than three months in a coma. Despite many ambulances passing, as she lay unconscious on the pavement, none of them would stop to help as they were designated white only ambulances.

He told the students: “Follow your heart and dreams and become anything you want.”

The powerful lecture detailed his fight against Apartheid, subsequent meetings with world leaders and royalty, and the murder of fellow activists.

Chris, whose life became intertwined with leading anti-Apartheid figures, warned: “Nelson Mandela became the vessel that all of us put our hopes into. Unfortunately, there’s a candidate in America who people are putting all their fears into. We must not be moved by fear, instead we must be moved by hope.”