Scandal-weary South Africans look to Mandela

2012-12-09 23:04
Nelson Mandela. (Nelson Mandela Foundation)

Nelson Mandela. (Nelson Mandela Foundation)

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Mandela comfortable

2012-12-10 08:55

Well wishes continue to pour in for ailing elderly statesman Nelson Mandela. Mandela remains at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria, where he was admitted on Saturday for routine medical tests. Watch. WATCH

Johannesburg - South Africans must accept that a man of Nelson Mandela’s age has bouts of illness say medical experts.

A specialist physician and critical care specialist in Johannesburg, Charles Muzamhindo, told the Mail & Guardian that at his age, Mandela being admitted to hospital carries a "certain level of risk".

"The risk of an elderly person contracting an opportunistic infection in hospital is of course greater than that of other age groups," Muzamhindo said.

 “I’m not sure we should press the panic button every single time a man of his age has the sniffles,” Mark Sonderup, vice-chairperson at the SA Medical Association also told the M&G.

"But unfortunately, we have to accept that simple health matters for a person of that age can turn very serious, very quickly."

Mandela ‘comfortable and in good care’

The office of President Jacob Zuma said Mandela’s admittance to a Pretoria hospital for medical tests and care was "consistent for his age".

Zuma visited Mandela on Sunday morning at the hospital and found the former leader to be "comfortable and in good care," presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

Maharaj offered no other details about Mandela, nor what medical tests he had undergone since entering the hospital.

Worshippers at a Catholic church in Johannesburg prayed for the former’s statesman’s recovery.

"When you have someone that's willing to lead by example like he did, it makes things easier for people to follow," said Thabile Manana, who worshipped on Sunday at Soweto's Regina Mundi Catholic church.

"Lately, the examples [in the ANC] are not so nice. It's hard. I'm scared for the country."

Beacon of hope

In February, Mandela spent a night in a hospital for a minor diagnostic surgery to determine the cause of an abdominal complaint. In January 2011, Mandela was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital for what officials initially described as tests but what turned out to be an acute respiratory infection.

Mandela has had other health problems in the past. He contracted tuberculosis during his years in prison and had surgery for an enlarged prostate gland in 1985. In 2001, Mandela underwent seven weeks of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, ultimately beating back the disease.

Many South Africans continue to look to Mandela for hope as scandals and corruption allegations plague the ANC.

"It's becoming corrupt every day ... and it's growing worse," said Sidney Matlana, a worshipper at Regina Mundi. "Things are getting worse than it was before."

Others praying on Sunday at Regina Mundi stressed the need for South Africa's politicians to follow Mandela's example.

‘Someone must come and take his place’

It was at this church that anti-apartheid crusaders gathered to plan, pray and to mourn their dead, a church Mandela himself once called a "battlefield between forces of democracy and those who did not hesitate to violate a place of religion with teargas, dogs and guns".

Mandela's own stained glass image stands just right of another portraying a man carrying the corpse of 13-year-old Hector Pieterson, who was gunned down by police in Soweto in the 1976 students’ protest.

Worshippers acknowledged on Sunday they didn't know which politician would be able to live up to Mandela's legacy.

"Every person has got his time," churchgoer Lerato Mhlala said. "Someone must come in and take his place as well."
- AP
Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  nelson mandela  |  johannesburg
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