‘Pray for Madiba’, asks an emotional Zuma

2013-06-09 10:00

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An emotional President Jacob Zuma has asked South Africans to pray for Madiba, who was recovering from a lung infection in hospital.

The former president’s wife, Graça Machel, was by his side as he was admitted to hospital at 1.30am yesterday.

Mandela was rushed to a Pretoria hospital in the early hours of yesterday after his lung infection turned serious.

Speaking to ANC members in East London, Eastern Cape, yesterday afternoon, Zuma asked the nation to pray for Mandela.

“In your name, I want to give a message to Tata Madiba who was admitted to hospital again this morning (yesterday). He must get well please. Please, our president Madiba must make a speedy recovery,” an emotional Zuma said.

He said doctors told him that since Mandela was admitted to hospital, he was doing well. “We must also pray for him as we are gathered here in the Eastern Cape.

We wish Madiba can get well soon because we want him to stay with us for a long time.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron posted a message on Twitter, together with the many other get-well-soon tweets: “My thoughts are with Nelson Mandela, who is in hospital in South Africa”.

Earlier, Zuma unveiled a monument in memory of East London political activists, Nomatshaka and Malcomess Mgabela, on the banks of the Tsholomqa River.

On Thursday, Machel called off her trip to Britain where she was due to address the NGO Nutrition for Growth, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said.

He said Machel’s presence gives Mandela “great strength and comfort”.

Maharaj yesterday said Mandela was in a “serious but stable” condition.

He said the former statesman “is receiving expert medical care and doctors are doing everything possible to make him better and comfortable”.

Mandela initially had breathing problems but by yesterday morning, he could breathe on his own without a ventilator.

Around 9am yesterday, his eldest daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, was dropped at the hospital by a friend to visit her ailing father.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was also spotted at the hospital where he apparently arrived in a single car – as opposed to the usual cavalcade – with his bodyguards.

Motlanthe’s spokesperson, Thabo Masebe, however, said the deputy president was there for a doctor’s appointment. “He had no plans to visit Mandela.”

The huge contingent of journalists in front of the hospital, which included about 30 photographers and nine outside broadcast vehicles, attracted curious members of the public who came to find out what was happening.

Many of them wished Mandela well when they heard that he was inside the hospital.

Security was tight at the entrance to the hospital, and guards would not let anyone in who could not confirm they were visiting a patient at the hospital.

The presidency has previously requested that the name of the hospital where Madiba is be withheld.

Things were quiet at Mandela’s Houghton home yesterday. About 10 local and international journalists camped out in front of the Joburg home and attracted the attention of tour groups passing by the house.

Two families showed up to drop off flowers and well wishes for Madiba.

The governing ANC was the first to wish Mandela well yesterday morning.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said: “The ANC hopes and trusts that president Mandela and his family will be afforded the necessary respect and privacy while he is in hospital. We have no doubt that Tata will continue to receive expert medical care and attention at this time.”

DA spokesperson Mmusi Maimane said his party was “concerned” by the news of Mandela’s hospitalisation, and wished him a speedy recovery.

“Nelson Mandela is a father to South Africa and South Africans. Every time he is admitted to hospital we feel saddened along with the rest of our country,” he said.

The SA Communist Party‘s Malesela Maleka also wished Madiba well on behalf of his party.

“To the family and to the former president, you are in our thoughts.”

Patrick Craven, the spokesperson for union federation Cosatu, said Mandela’s contribution to the liberation struggle was unparalleled, saying he had “deservedly become a revolutionary icon and a model for all people battling against tyranny, exploitation and poverty”.  – Carien du Plessis, Charl du Plessis, Lubabalo Ngcukana, Sabelo Ndlangisa and Xolani Mbanjwa 

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