Military vehicle at Madiba hospital

2011-01-27 11:22

A military vehicle arrived at Milpark hospital in Johannesburg today, where former president Nelson Mandela was being treated.

Paramedics surrounded the back entrance, where large pot plants had been placed outside a specially-erected green barricade to hide the area from view.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, Mandela’s former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and his personal assistant Zelda la Grange arrived at the hospital this morning.

One of Mandela’s bodyguards came out and asked police to “clear this space for us for when we come out”.

There has been no word on the 92-year-old statesman’s condition. He was admitted to the hospital yesterday for what the Nelson Mandela Foundation called “routine tests”.

Media flocked to the hospital and many kept an overnight vigil.

Scores of journalists continued to gather amid tight security today.

Children at McAuley House Primary School, neighbouring the hospital, shouted from classroom windows: “Get well Madiba, we love you Madiba”.

The Star newspaper reported today that Mandela was seen by Professor Michael Plit, a specialist pulmonologist (who deals with diseases of the respiratory system).

“He has been admitted for investigation,” Plit was quoted as saying.

He would not say what Mandela’s condition was or if he had examined him, except to say he had seen him.
The newspaper described him as Mandela’s personal physician.

On the National Asthma Education Programme website, Plit describes his medical interests as obstructive lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Police had tightened security at the hospital and kept out scores of journalists, photographers and cameramen, who were left to wait in the street leading up to the hospital. Traffic was backed up as officials searched vehicles for cameras.

ANC officials were planning to visit the former president some time today, eNews reported.

When asked for confirmation, ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said the matter was between the ANC, the hospital and the family.

Mthembu later issued a statement calling for the media to stop speculating about Mandela’s health and allow the family privacy.

“We appeal, particularly to the media fraternity to refrain from making unfounded and unwarranted speculation in relation to Madiba’s health,” he said.

“In the same vein we also request the media, in particular, to give Madiba’s family and the hospital the necessary privacy.”

He said South Africans would be informed of any change, including if Mandela were to be discharged from hospital.

Various family members, including his eldest grandson chief Mandla Mandela and daughter Zindzi, and his former personal assistant Jessie Duarte reportedly visited today.

Beeld newspaper reported that it appeared Mandela was in the hospital’s private unit for burn victims.

The unit’s windows were covered to ensure privacy and only one person was allowed in at a time.

CNN reported last night that Mandela was flown from Cape Town to Milpark Hospital and brought to the hospital by military ambulance.

Hospital spokesperson Erin Walsh would not comment.

“It is our policy to respect patients and we would not give any details about the admission to anyone expect the family,” she said.

The Star reported that a Facebook post by Mandela’s granddaughter, Zoleka Mandela, read: “I really hate to see you this way. It kills me each time. Know that i’m here for you as I believe you have always been there for me. You are never alone in this. We are all with you each and every step of the way. All you need to do is remember that you us at your back (sic) and call. I love you. You already know this. Spending my next few days with you just so I know that you’ll be ok! I’m saddened... .”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation issued a brief statement just after 4pm yesterday reading: “We can confirm that Mr Mandela is at Milpark Hospital undergoing routine tests. He is in no danger and is in good spirits.”

There had been no further word from the foundation by noon today.

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