U.S. Ambassador To South Africa 'Heavy Hearted' On Mandela's Death AP Photo / AP ByHunter WalkerPublishedDecember 5, 2013, 6:14 PM EST 272 views U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard had just two words Thursday to describe his initial reaction to the death of South African leader Nelson Mandela. "Heavy hearted," he wrote in an email to TPM. Gaspard, who was appointed to his post in the fall, met Mandela on two occasions in the early 1990s when he was working as a community organizer and local official in New York City.