Former Robben Island prison guard smuggled a baby into Nelson Mandela's jail cell

Former prison guard Christo Brand. Credit: ITV News

A former Robben Island prison guard has revealed that he once smuggled a baby into Nelson Mandela's cell in a bleak, maximum security prison so he could see his grandchild.

Christo Brand said he was just 19 when he first came face-to-face with Nelson Mandela, who was then 60, but soon became friends with the man who would become South Africa's leader.

But Mr Brand told ITV News that despite Mandela's historic rise to power, he never saw a change in him from "prisoner to president".

He told ITV News about the moment that Mandela's then wife Winnie begged him to allow her to take a baby, Mandela's grandchild, into his cell.

Mr Brand said Winnie Mandela pushed the baby into his arms and wanted to give him some money.

"I said I would just hold it while she went to see Mandela for a few seconds," he said.

"I sneaked to one side and when Mandela came out of that visit I was in the passage."

He added: "And for him to take that baby out of my arms was quite emotional. He had tears in his eyes, he kissed the baby twice, and then I took the baby away out of his arms.

"That was a few seconds and then I took it back to Winnie. She was still begging me to show him the child. And Mandela kept it a secret."

He said the Mandela he knew was a "very disciplined person, very honest" who was fighting for the freedom of South Africa, to make the country democratic through reconciliation.

The former guard said that "letters a notes were smuggled" through to Mandela and "through that the inspiration for the youth to see him and listen to him was very strong".

The image of Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar came to define the progress the South African nation had made post apartheid. Credit: Ross Kinnaird/EMPICS Sport

The former prison guard said: "Mandela as prisoner and Mandela as president - there was no change. He was still a down to earth person. He still made me feel like the most important person in his life."

And Mandela would always give up his seat for him and say 'no, a special person has come to visit me', he said.

Mr Brand added: "He had not changed at all. He was more disciplined for the country, stood up for the people and fought for things he wanted to be changed and got it successfully done."