Streets cordoned off as interest in Mandela hospital grows

2013-06-25 20:22

Tshwane Metro Police were forced to cordon off Celliers Street leading to one of the two entrances of the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Arcadia, Pretoria, today after scores of well-wishers gathered and sang struggle songs, wishing former president Nelson Mandela as speedy recovery.

Just after 6pm, Mandela’s daughter, Makaziwe, who spent the day at her father’s home in Qunu, Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape, was seen walking into the hospital.

She had apparently met with, among others, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba, and other family members to discuss sensitive family matters which would not be divulged publicly.

Meanwhile, the Pretoria hospital was abuzz with people from all walks of life gathering to pose for pictures at the wall where flowers, cards and balloons had been left by well-wishers for the past two weeks.

Among the most notable visitors to the hospital today were Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgabo, former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni and Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula visited Mandela for a second time, Sapa reported.

Earlier in the day, a group of businessmen from Pretoria released 100 white doves to symbolise the freedom that Mandela has stood for since joining the ANC-led struggle.

The group released the doves in front of the hospital entrance as well-wishers grew in numbers today.

In a statement, the Presidency reiterated that Mandela’s health condition, which has been described as “critical”, had not changed, two days after Madiba’s health had deteriorated from “serious but stable”.

President Jacob Zuma thanked South Africans for their prayers and urged the public to keep Mandela in their thoughts.

“President Zuma thanks the South African public for ongoing support and understanding. We must support him and support his family,” the statement reads.

“We must demonstrate our love and appreciation for his leadership during the struggle for liberation and in our first few years of freedom and democracy by living out his legacy and promoting unity, non-racialism, non-sexism and prosperity in our country,” said Zuma.

He also called on people to demonstrate the values espoused by the 94-year-old Madiba – who has spent 17 days in hospital for a recurring lung infection – by participating in the 67 minutes for humanity in his honour.

“We must all be planning what to do next month in marking our 67 minutes of doing good for humanity as called upon by Madiba to do so, when he launched the International Mandela Day campaign. Let us make it the biggest Mandela Day ever on 18th July, focusing on doing good all over the country,” said Zuma.

At midday about 30 trainees from the Tshwane SAPS Academy in Pretoria emerged from a bus, each carrying a bouquet of lilies and proteas to lay at the entrance of the hospital.

The police trainees all wore their blue training track suits and walked in a line to lay the flowers as their bosses looked on.

Well-wishers continued to brave the chilly evening, huddling together as reporters filed updates to their newsrooms.

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