Mandela loss holds special significance for Toowoomba local

FOR University of Southern Queensland's Professor Ronel Erwee the loss of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela holds special significance.

The South African worked as an advisory consultant to Mandela in 1994, tasked with re-wording the constitution of South Africa.

Prof Erwee, currently a professor of management at USQ's Toowoomba campus, said she was honoured to have the brief opportunity to meet the former Nobel Prize winner.

"While Mandela has been ill for some time, his death has still come as a shock," Prof Erwee said.

"I feel personally honoured to have had the opportunity to work for him.

"There is a big South African community in Toowoomba and we are all devastated."

Mandela's presence was something she said she would never forget.

"He (Mandela) had personal warmth which you could feel when you met him," she said.

Prof Erwee commended USQ's support of the South African community after the news of Mr Mandela's death broke.

"Within an hour of the news USQ Vice-Chancellor Jan Thomas had the flags at half mast and put out a tweet via the university twitter account," Prof Erwee said.

"It was a nice gesture and greatly appreciated."