Dirk Smit's reaction to the death of Nelson Mandela, it would be fair to assume, puts him in the minority of South Africans.

"Sort of indifferent, to be honest," he said flatly of his feelings. "Calling him a terrorist was a fair comment. What we shouldn't forget is that he also killed a lot of people. The bombings and all that crap."

To criticize Mandela in these days is a subversive act, as politically contrarian as declining to wear a poppy on Remembrance Sunday is in Britain. The country's first black president, already immortalized with statues, on bridges and on bank notes, is the subject of rolling eulogies on television and radio channels and he has been prayed for at church services up and down since his death on Dec. 5.