Presidency unapologetic over Mandela

2012-12-13 22:26
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Cape Town - The presidency on Thursday insisted that Nelson Mandela's privacy is of the utmost importance, after reports emerged that the former president was no longer being treated at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria.

In a statement late on Thursday, presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj maintained that right from the start, no mention was made of the specific hospital where Mandela was being treated, to ensure privacy.

"President Mandela is being treated at a Pretoria hospital as said from the first statement we issued.

"We have refrained from disclosing the hospital in order to ensure privacy and also to allow doctors space to do their work of caring for Madiba without interruptions or undue pressure.

"Madiba is being treated for a lung infection and is well-looked after by a competent medical team."

While we understand the interest in the story, we urge the media to respect the former president's privacy, Maharaj said.

Earlier on Thursday, Madiba-not-at-1-Military">Eye Witness News (EWN) reported ithat Mandela was not at 1 Military, but "has decided not to name the Pretoria hospital in a bid to protect Madiba's privacy".

EWN said it had spotted several black military police vehicles with their unmistakable yellow license plates parked at the facility (where Mandela is).

Staff confirmed that Madiba had been treated at the 1 Military Hospital but said they were sworn to secrecy, EWN said.

They did let slip that former president Thabo Mbeki has paid a visit and well as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the report said.

A large contingent of journalists from local and international media have been camping outside the 1 Military Hospital since Saturday.

On Monday Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula stopped to speak to journalists outside 1 Military Hospital.

"He's doing very, very well," the minister said in brief comments. "And it is important to keep him in our prayers and also to be as calm as possible and not cause a state of panic because I think that is not what all of us need."

The former president, 94, was hospitalised at the weekend. He was flown from his home in Qunu, Eastern Cape, on Saturday, to a Pretoria facility.

The presidency said he was suffering from the recurrence of a previous lung infection and was responding to treatment.

The hospital is part of the Thaba Tshwane Military Base, a national security zone.

Soldiers were manning the hospital's main entrance, using plastic cones to control the movement of vehicles.

Every vehicle entering the premises was being inspected.

Mandela's current stay in the hospital has become his longest continuous period in hospital since 2001, when he underwent seven weeks of radiotherapy after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

He was 83 at the time.

In January 2011, Mandela was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital for what turned out to be an acute respiratory infection. He had contracted tuberculosis while in prison.

Mandela is revered for being a leader of the struggle against racist white rule in South Africa, and for preaching reconciliation once he emerged from prison in 1990, after 27 years behind bars.

He served one five-year term as president before retiring from public life.

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  mac maharaj  |  media
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