No Qunu for Madiba

2012-12-30 10:00

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Mandela family ‘in no rush’ to move the former statesman from Houghton home

The family of ex-president Nelson Mandela said they were in no hurry to move him to his home village of Qunu after he was released from a Pretoria hospital this week.

In an interview with City Press on Friday, his grandson, Mandla Mandela, said the family was excited to have Madiba back at his home in Houghton, north of Johannesburg, and thanked South Africans and the international community for praying for his recovery.

He said: “We want to thank all those who prayed for him while he was in hospital. We are happy that he is resting at home, but wish he could be here with us in Qunu where he belongs with his family and his people.”

The family is, however, not in a hurry to get him back to Qunu ­because “his health and wellbeing comes first”, he added.

Madiba spent 20 days in hospital, where he was treated for a ­recurring lung infection and also underwent surgery to remove ­gallstones. This was Mandela’s longest hospital stay since he was released from prison in 1994.

Mandla said that on Thursday, a day after his grandfather was ­discharged from hospital, the ­family met to decide on a day to ­visit him in Johannesburg should he not ­return home to Qunu in time for New Year’s Day.

“As the Mandela family and AbaThembu chiefs, we will visit him in Johannesburg in the first week of January,” he said, adding that they were hoping to welcome the New Year with him since they couldn’t spend Christmas ­together.

Mandela (94) was flown from his Eastern Cape home on December 8 and was admitted to hospital.

In a speech on the last day of the ANC elective conference in ­Mangaung last week, President Jacob Zuma said Mandela had been in a serious condition but had responded well to treatment and was being cared for by the nation’s best specialists.

It was the first time the presidency revealed the seriousness of Mandela’s condition. Earlier on, the elder statesmen’s health scare was played down.

Mandla, the chief of Mvezo, which borders Qunu, thanked the doctors who looked after his grandfather, saying they did a “great job” and needed to be ­applauded for their sterling work in looking after the Nobel peace prize laureate.

Madiba is currently receiving high care at home.

“Though we would like to see him back in Qunu, we are not in a hurry for that. His health is ­paramount to us. We would also like to thank the doctors caring for him. We have great confidence in them,” Mandla said.

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said on Friday that ­doctors had not given him any ­indication as to how long the former president will continue ­receiving high care at home (in Houghton), or by when he was ­expected to recover.

“As government, we are as ­relieved as everyone else that he is out of hospital and in the privacy of his home and family. The ­presidency would also thank all South Africans for their prayers and ask that his privacy be respected,” said Maharaj.

Meanwhile, members of the ­media have been camped in the street near Mandela’s Houghton home since he was discharged late on Wednesday. Police have kept them well away from the house.

– Additional reporting by Loyiso Sidimba

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