Madiba is awake, says friend Denis Goldberg

2013-07-05 12:48

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Former president Nelson Mandela was “totally conscious” when he visited him in hospital on Monday, says former Rivonia trialist Denis Goldberg.

This comes after reports last night that the Mandela family’s lawyer said in court papers the former president was in a “vegetative state”.

Advocate David Smith also stated that Madiba’s doctors had advised the family to switch off his life-support machines.

But Goldberg disputes this.

“I was invited by Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, to visit him in (the Medi-Clinic Heart) hospital in order to provide the stimulation of hearing the voice of a person he knows,” Goldberg told City Press on Wednesday morning.

“He was incapacitated but he was totally conscious.”

Goldberg confirmed that Mandela was receiving assistance to breathe.

“But he responds to voices and tries to talk, yet mumbles,” he said.

“He was dozing when I got there. I spoke and told him who I was and he opened his eyes and looked at me. I spoke to him for about ten minutes and he responded positively to what I was saying

“He did not answer because he can’t talk, with the pipe in his throat, but he was moving his jaw as if he wanted to talk. I was absolutely amazed – after the stories I had heard.”

Asked if his account was on the record, Goldberg said: “I asked Mrs Machel what I was allowed to talk about in terms of the visit and she said I could discuss all that I have told you.”

The Presidency last night denied that Mandela was in a vegetative state, saying “Madiba remains in a critical, but stable condition”.

Machel also spoke publicly about her husband’s health for the first time, at a function for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Houghton, Johannesburg, yesterday.

“Although Madiba sometimes may be uncomfortable, very few times is he in pain,” she said. “But he is fine.

“I think the best gift he has given is the gift of unity. Whatever is the outcome of his stay at hospital, that will remain the second time where he offered his nation an opportunity to be united under the banner of our flag, under the banner of our Constitution,” she said.

Said Goldberg: “I was very moved by the experience – of being asked to help.”

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