Mandela 'asleep' when Zuma visited

2013-06-24 11:23
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Zuma addresses media in Joburg

Members of the media scrambled to get a prime spot to listen to President Zuma's address to editors, all expecting news of Nelson Mandela's condition. See the pictures.

Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela's condition in a Pretoria hospital remained critical for a second straight day on Monday, as President Jacob Zuma said the former president was "asleep" when he visited him late on Sunday night.

Zuma told at least 60 foreign and South African journalists that doctors are doing everything possible to ensure the 94-year-old's wellbeing and comfort on his 17th day in the hospital.

The president repeated some of the content of a presidential statement issued on Sunday and refused to give any details about Mandela's condition, saying: "I'm not a doctor."

"Madiba is critical in the hospital, and this is the father of democracy. This is the man who fought and sacrificed his life to stay in prison, the longest-serving prisoner in South Africa. He is one of those who has contributed to democracy," Zuma said.

"All of us in the country should accept the fact that Madiba is now old. As he ages, his health will ... trouble him and I think what we need to do as a country is to pray for him."

Zuma, who in the past has given an overly sunny view of Mandela's health, briefly described his visit to the hospital and seeing Mandela.

"It was late, he was already asleep," Zuma said. "And we then had a bit of a discussion with the doctors as well as his wife, Graca Machel, and we left."

Mandela was hospitalised on 8 June for what the government said was a recurring lung infection. This is his fourth hospitalisation since December.

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg

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