During a raid on the house of Nelson Mandela South African police shattered a counterfeit money operation run by the 94-year-old former President, who was caught in his basement photocopying web cam pictures of himself, and writing “100 million dollars” in crayon on small slips of tea-stain aged paper.
The large-scale counterfeiting programme is believed to have started in the pensioner’s home following the release of an official South African bank note bearing the image of the former freedom fighter. Reports of forged notes first emerged from the local cornershop where Mandela would go every day to pick up milk and a paper and chat with the owner about the time he met the Spice Girls.
“He’s getting on a bit, and is usually very careful with his pennies," explained newsagent PW Botha, “I did mention to him once that the 200 rand he used to pay for a stamp looked a bit different from the ones that had been delivered from the bank, but he’d just said it was a Scottish note and scarpered with the change.”
But the fraud did not stop with lookalike notes with a sterling value approaching twenty pounds, and Mandela was then seen at the supermarket checkout, getting the total cost for a big shop, then turning around, taking a pen from behind his ear, and fiddling with something in his wallet before turning back and handing over a note for 1,578.98 precisely. He then popped next door to the off licence and tried but failed to convince to one of the prettier shop girls that a note stating it entitled the bearer to a big kiss and a cuddle was legal tender.
“He seemed like such a sweet old bloke,” sighed Botha on hearing of Mandela’s arrest, “still, once a con, always a con I suppose. And now I’m beginning to doubt whether that bloke in the purple he convinced me to lend a hundred quid really was Archbishop Desmond Tutu.”