Madiba story 'mischievious': Jansen

By Drum Digital
08 April 2013

University of the Free State vice-chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen on Monday dismissed a report quoting him as saying he wished former president Nelson Mandela would die.

"This is a complete misrepresentation of what I said," he said in a statement.

He was referring to an article in the Volksblad newspaper on a leadership summit he spoke at on Sunday.

"My argument was that Madiba had done so much for South Africa, that he had served South Africa well, and that sometimes you just wish that people would leave him alone so that he can pass his final days quietly."

Jansen said he wanted Mandela to live as long as possible, but without the constant glare and speculation.

"He needs to be left alone to rest and die in peace. That was the content and context of what I said.

"To misrepresent a lengthy statement on a talk which was entirely devoted to extolling Madiba's leadership -- alongside that of [Albert] Luthuli, [Mahatma] Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr -- is mischievous."

Jansen said the seven characteristics of leadership of Mandela, and the other three leaders, were what the hour and ten minute talk was about.

This was something completely ignored in the misrepresentation.

Jansen added that he did argue the official representation of the hospital visits as "routine check-ups" was inaccurate for aged people, since at the age of 94 no hospital visit was routine.

"That is what I said."

In the Volksblad article Jansen was quoted as asking the group of about 250 students: "Don't you also wish he would die?"

Volksblad reported that the students were noticeably shocked when they heard the question.

"Every time we hear he's in hospital, everyone thinks, this is it, he's going to die this time. Big Mac [Maharaj, presidential spokesman] is lying when he says Madiba is in for check-ups. When you are 94, you go to hospital to die; not for routine tests," Jansen was quoted as saying.

Mandela was discharged on Saturday after being admitted to a Pretoria hospital on March 27 to receive treatment for a lung condition.

Volksblad reported that Maharaj was angry when asked for comment.

"I'll think about it carefully. I need to give the matter careful consideration before I comment," said Maharaj.

-by Sapa

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