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Mandela Gets a Warm Welcome to Jewish Suburb by Anc Critic

August 17, 1992
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African National Congress President Nelson Mandela was given a sweet welcome to his new home in Houghton, an upscale Jewish suburb here.

Mandela’s new neighbor, member of Parliament Tony Leon of the Democratic Party, brought a gift of chocolate cake, which he left with a member of the household staff in Mandela’s absence.

“I felt it was a nice touch,” said Leon, a Jew who represents a district comprising 22 suburbs, including Houghton.

Leon has been regarded as one of the sharpest critics of the ANC. But he welcomes the move of blacks into Houghton, enabled by the overturning by South African President F.W. de Klerk of the apartheid law that segregated residential areas.

Leon described Mandela’s home as “a fairly modest double-story,” compared to the many mansions in Houghton.

Leon, a lawyer and academic, is sought after as “a Jewish spokesman” on political and other issues, succeeding Harry Schwarz, a veteran member of Parliament who is now the South African ambassador to the United States.

He expressed concern for the country’s future, particularly in three areas — property rights, physical safety and “white flight,” or potential emigration of white South Africans who are anxious over massive changes in the country.

A large-scale departure of skilled whites would produce an “economic Holocaust,” he said.

But he added: “However pessimistic people may feel, there is still a glimmer of hope.”

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