Growing concern over Mandela

2013-06-11 19:23
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Pretoria - Pedestrians passing the Pretoria hospital where former president Nelson Mandela is being treated, were curious about his health on Tuesday.

This was heightened by the presence of 10 police officers at the private hospital’s entrance, parameter fences, a police tape cordon, and media camping across the street.

"I do not want to just go home without knowing what is happening to Madiba. He is in our neighbourhood and even though he is unwell, I am excited to an extent," said university student Aymee Zwane.

She stood next to local and international photographers whose lenses were focused on the hospital’s main entrance.

"I wish I knew more about his condition, but from what I’ve heard so far, Tata is unwell. My family prays for him every time. He will be fine," she said.

Another passer-by, Simon Moereng, 57, said he felt helpless at not being able to do anything to assist Mandela.

"Here is a man who did a lot for millions of us. He is lying in hospital, sick and there is nothing we can do for him. That depresses me a lot," he said.

"We are poor people, we don’t have much, but only our well wishes. Mandela should live long in our democracy. He is missed in our nation’s day to day running."

Some passengers in passing taxis used their cellphones to photograph the journalists and the hospital.

Family time

Mandela's ex-wife, ANC MP Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was seen leaving the hospital before 18:00.

She and her daughter Zindzi were driven off in a black Audi, escorted by a white Mercedes-Benz. Both cars had flashing, blue, police lights.

Earlier, the other two of Mandela's three surviving children arrived at the hospital in separate cars.

Makaziwe Mandela's red Range Rover was followed by that of Zenani Mandela, South Africa's ambassador to Argentina.

Tuesday was Mandela's fourth day in hospital.

The presidency said the doctors treating him had given President Jacob Zuma a thorough briefing on Monday night.

"President Zuma has full confidence in the medical team, and is satisfied that they are doing their best to make Madiba better," spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

Mandela was still in a "serious but stable" condition.

Maharaj dismissed media reports that Zuma would visit Mandela on Tuesday.

"That is incorrect. The president is in Cape Town preparing for the budget vote of the presidency," he said.

On Saturday, the presidency announced that Mandela had been admitted to hospital in the early hours of the morning.

On Monday, the presidency said his condition was unchanged, and that he was receiving intensive care.

Police presence

Security at the hospital, in Arcadia, was tightened, with police officers manning its two entrances.

Police spokesperson Phuti Setati said the police at the hospital were part of the presidential protection services team, whose task included protecting former presidents.

He did not specifically confirm that Mandela was in the hospital.

Local and international media have camped outside the facility, and at Mandela's Houghton, Johannesburg, home since Saturday.

This is the third time the Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been hospitalised this year.

At the end of March and in April, he spent nine days in hospital receiving treatment for recurring lung problems.

Earlier in March, he was admitted to a Pretoria hospital for a scheduled check-up and was discharged the following day.

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