Nelson Mandela well-wishers continue to stream in

2013-07-01 11:15

It was quiet outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria today, where former president Nelson Mandela remained in a critical condition.

Celliers Street remained cordoned off and people milled around. A few police officers stood watch in the parking area.

Passers-by stopped and asked journalists for the latest news on Mandela’s health.

Some Madiba supporters travelled to Pretoria from other provinces to pay their respects.

Lanbile Ndzause, from Mthatha in Eastern Cape, said he took a bus to Pretoria last night. He arrived this morning.

“I was in Qunu yesterday. It’s very sad. People are not feeling good about Madiba’s latest condition,” he said.

“We don’t play soccer any more when Madiba was reported to be in a critical condition in hospital. We wish him well.”

Swakhile Mbuntshu, from Tsolo in Eastern Cape, said he wanted to wish Mandela a speedy recovery.

“I wish Madiba well. South Africa will not be the same without him. He has done a lot for this country.”

The two men read messages other people had left on the wall outside the hospital.

Among the messages was one from the ANC Youth League. The message was printed on a youth league T-shirt, which read: “The ANC Youth League wishes its first president, a freedom fighter, a speedy recovery. We love u Tata.”

The shrine, which continues to grow, was started after Mandela was admitted to the hospital with a recurring lung infection on June 8. Today was Mandela’s 24th day in hospital.

Journalists continued to congregate near the Celliers Street entrance, photographing and filming people dropping off cards and flowers.

On Saturday, President Jacob Zuma said Mandela remained in a critical condition but he hoped for a recovery. Zuma gave the update during a press briefing with US President Barack Obama.

Obama did not visit the hospital, but privately met some of Mandela’s relatives, including his two daughters and several grandchildren.

Obama also had a telephonic conversation with Mandela’s wife Graça Machel.

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