Mandela not in a 'vegetative' state - presidency

2013-07-04 22:54

Johannesburg - Doctors treating former president Nelson Mandela have denied that he is in a vegetative state, the presidency said on Thursday.

"We confirm our earlier statement released this afternoon [Thursday] after President Jacob Zuma visited Madiba in hospital that Madiba remains in a critical, but stable condition," spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

He said Mandela was under the care of a "multi-disciplinary" panel of medical experts drawn from the SA Military Health Services, the public and private sector, and universities.

"Under this panel, a team of doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health professionals attend to Madiba on a 24-hour basis."

The statement from the presidency came after court documents surfaced stating that Mandela was in a "permanent vegetative state" and that his family had been advised to turn off his life support machine.

The certificate of urgency dated June 27 and submitted to the Eastern Cape High Court was widely reported by local and international media. A copy was obtained by Sapa.

In it, an advocate for the Mandela family said he had been advised by his instructing attorney that Mandela's condition had "taken a turn for the worst (sic) and that the Mandela family have been advised by the medical practitioners that his life support machines should be switched off".

"Rather than prolonging his suffering the Mandela family is exploring this option as a very real probability."

The document was attributed to David Smith, an advocate representing 15 members of the Mandela family in a court case against Mandela's grandson, Mandla Mandela.

Wording changed

In the document, Smith described Mandela's health as perilous, and said he was in a permanent vegetative state and was being assisted in breathing by a life support machine.

"Affidavits will be provided, at the hearing of this application, from his treating physicians that he is in a permanent vegetative state and is assisted in breathing by a life support machine," he said.

"The anticipation of his impending death is based on real and substantial grounds."

A later version of the document filed in the court omitted the paragraphs referring to Mandela's "vegetative state" and the advice by physicians to take Mandela off life support.

A lawyer for the Mandela family later said the original certificate of urgency was "merely a submission outside of court".

"To the extent there is speculation, a certificate of urgency was filed in terms of the practise of our court," said Wesley Hayes, who represented the family in the dispute with Mandla Mandela about the graves of his father and his grandfather's other two children.

"The certificate is not evidence, but merely submissions on why a matter should be heard outside ordinary court sittings."

Hayes said the ruling on the urgency of the matter had been made "in camera" and that this "would extend to the contents of the certificate of urgency".

"Further than that we have no comment," he said.

Remains reburied

On Wednesday, the Eastern Cape High Court ordered Mandla Mandela to return the remains of his grandfather's three children to Qunu from Mvezo, where he moved them two years ago.

The remains were those of Mandela's eldest son Madiba Thembekile, who died in a car accident in 1969; Mandla Mandela's father Makgatho Mandela, who died in 2005; and Mandela's first daughter Makaziwe Mandela, who died as an infant in 1948.

The bones were reburied at a ceremony at a gravesite at Nelson Mandela's home in Qunu on Thursday afternoon.

  • Gail Joyce - 2013-07-04 23:09

    So who is lying?

      Sheik Mohammad - 2013-07-05 00:55

      Mac's mouth was moving, this can only mean he is lying.

  • donrico.silva - 2013-07-04 23:10

    They lie about everything happening in sa

  • Sergio Oneness Pentecostal Williams - 2013-07-04 23:11

    nee vader! nou weet ek ni meer ni!

  • Zamani Myende - 2013-07-04 23:12

    I knew it the presidency wil deny it . . .

  • Cebo Mbokazi - 2013-07-04 23:16

    Why can't we see that we are being lied to by the presidency about Mandela's true state of health ?

  • Mannaan Gaffoor - 2013-07-04 23:17

    Haaaibo!!! What's the story now? Is tata veggie or what. The way the Zuma is handling this matter I'm itching to do my EFT to EFF!! Viva Julius viva!!! And Kenny don't worry about these hawks, what zuma offer them you just offer double, and bob is your uncle

  • Christiaan Wilken - 2013-07-04 23:20

    Madiba is like Chuck Morris, he died 3 times this week but feels much better today, or shall I say "serious but stable" he will probably be halfway to Qunu to be buried then these banana republic government will still try and convince us he is serious but stable

  • Mcedise Logan Buhlungu - 2013-07-04 23:21

    Yah neh? What is Zuma hoping for? To keep Mandela alive till the elections? Bit*h keep hoping.

  • proudlysa - 2013-07-04 23:22

    Zumba holds onto Madiba and his legacy for dear life because without that Zuma and his ANC will be the focus of what they have become - a sorry bunch of lying thieves!

  • Igshaan Cornelius - 2013-07-04 23:24

    Mac must get a job at Mac donalds vegitative' state does not mean he looks like a potatoe or sumthing its the state that he is in

  • whambides - 2013-07-04 23:24

    Sa laughing stock of the world.

  • Stanley Le Fleur - 2013-07-04 23:25

    Hayibo, who's fooling who? Its game over i would suggest. Why be so cruel and let the old man suffer beyond what is necessary? And the fighting about the money and royalties? Hi sies man!

  • Maphuma S. van Ramothopo - 2013-07-04 23:26

    This Zuma government through his spokesman Drunkard Mac can't be trusted,They r liars.I don't think I will ever trust them again.

      Andrew Selous - 2013-07-05 05:08

      There are still many ignorant people out there brother,sad.

  • Ettiene Esterhuizen - 2013-07-04 23:29

    Where is the proof that he is still alive???? He is probably dead already!!!

  • Stuart Conyngham - 2013-07-04 23:36

    This is just disgraceful now, how can you expect to gain the trust and support of your fellow countrymen/women like this whilst posting lies and making a huge scene from nothing. Mr Mandela would be disgusted and ashamed, I really feel for the family at this time of hardship. hamba kahle Madiba, you have done your bit. As for Zuma and his lying lackies... your fate will be decided soon enough...

  • Steven Douglas - 2013-07-04 23:37

    This whole sorry saga reminds me of the movie"Weekend at Bernies"!!

      Jan Hendrik - 2013-07-04 23:45

      You just "went there" haha I can just imagine the next anc propaganda video... eish

  • Cornè Kritzinger - 2013-07-04 23:38

    Once again we are the international laughing stock. Why can't these clowns just tell the truth?

  • Israel - 2013-07-04 23:39

    On the BBC news Zuma claimed that Madiba had spoken to him the last time he visited him!! Zumakie you are a pathological LIAR and to utter those words were selfish, deceitful, arrogant and beyond comprehension

      Godfried Krüger - 2013-07-05 04:48

      LOL, speak whilst of life support. Zuma must have dreamt!

  • Freddie Francois Strydom - 2013-07-04 23:43

    Everyone has it wrong... i reckon. Mr mandela is dead and they keeping himnon machines till his bday 16th of july, so we can have another public holiday... imagine all the hipe and the money that will be made off this. Im telling you guys....someone is gettting rich ere...ipl style. Check the bookies....

      Freddie Francois Strydom - 2013-07-04 23:49

      I know its insensitive of me....he is a legend that will live on for ever... and history books will be filled with his name... but please let the legend rest in peace....

      Freddie Francois Strydom - 2013-07-04 23:55

      Sorry...18th of july 1918

  • Yvonne Homan - 2013-07-04 23:43

    Can somebody clarify this for me? By switching off the machines and letting him die, is this not called euthanasia? Isn't this type of practice illegal in South Africa, if so why are the doctors advising this option. I was under the impression that doctors take a hippocratic oath to save a life.

      Jan Hendrik - 2013-07-04 23:49

      No, switching the machines off is like letting nature run its course. They are not going to pump him full of drugs or suffocate him, because vegitative state is a pc word for brain dead I assume? Like he was in a coma but the effects are permanent now.

      Jan Hendrik - 2013-07-04 23:52

      Ok technically it does not mean brain dead. A persistent vegetative state is a disorder of consciousness in which patients with severe brain damage are in a state of partial arousal rather than true awareness. It is a diagnosis of some uncertainty in that it deals with a syndrome . After four weeks in a vegetative state (VS), the patient is classified as in a persistent vegetative state. This diagnosis is classified as a permanent vegetative state (PVS) after approximately one year of being in a vegetative state.

      OzzyInSA - 2013-07-05 00:36

      Yvonne, my Dad was in a similar position a few years ago. First off, I believe that Mandela's lung infection is in fact pneumonia which may Dad had. The parallels are too similar. When a person in that condition is on a ventilator, the doctors insert a breathing tube down the patients throat to help them breathe (the "ventilator"). They are also hooked up to other monitors but this is just to "monitor" the patient. They do not switch off the ventilator. In situations like this the recommended period of being on a ventilator is 10-14 days. After this the doctors recommend removing the breathing tube and see what happens. Unfortunately with my Dad, he had improved even before the tube was removed and he continued to improve after. However, due to the stress his heart gave out. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying this will happen with Mandela. I am just saying this is the process. Of course, the family can reject the doctors advice too and keep the tube in. But this significantly reduces the patients recovery per day. Hope this explains it to you. My Dad was 'only' 86.

      Nico Eksteen - 2013-07-05 08:00

      If two independent neurosurgeons come to the same conclusion that the brain is dead the machines may be turned off. This was the case previously, don't know if the position has changed.

  • Sipiwe Freeman Nhlapo - 2013-07-04 23:44

    no wonder the mandela family didn't want President Obama to visit him in hospital. otherwise everybody would have known the truth then.

      Jan Hendrik - 2013-07-04 23:54

      Americans are quite famous for jot telling the truth. infact Obama would do a better job than any of us.

  • Thomas Kuka - 2013-07-04 23:46

    His ancestors are calling him so why they r holding him now,his soul want to rest bcos what he has done was there 4 every1 to c.its tym now to celebrate everythng he preached us nd continue to maintain what he had left bhind.

      OzzyInSA - 2013-07-05 00:27

      His ancestors are dead. How can they call him?

  • Soet Engeltjie - 2013-07-04 23:51

    What is the truth?

  • Singatha Jongihlati - 2013-07-04 23:55

    *SIGH*I knew the presidency will botch this up.

  • Siyabulela Patrick - 2013-07-05 00:06

    presidency mxxxxm,truth once please!!!

  • Shades - 2013-07-05 00:09

    Who cares either way, get over it!

  • OzzyInSA - 2013-07-05 00:14

    Ok, so Nelson Mandela is not in a vegitative state. Same can't be said for Jacob Zuma...

      Denver Sykes - 2013-07-05 08:56

      Hahahahahah!!!!! You made my day!!!!!!!! Never was the truth put out there so clearly and "to the point" hahahahaha!!!

  • Pieter Du Preez - 2013-07-05 00:15

    Since you were previously so keen to have your photo opportunity with the poor man, why not posts some pictures of him reading yesterday's Soweto, drinking tea with you? Surely that would satisfy all these pesky commoners?

  • bcluley - 2013-07-05 00:16

    so see how the dream madiba had has been ruined by the cANCer killing this country

  • Magda Veldman - 2013-07-05 00:34

    So the family is lying in court. Who must we believe?

  • Marian En Malcolm Pipe - 2013-07-05 00:44

    Jacob Zuma as President of South Africa is the Commander In Chief of the South African National Defence Force. Nelson Mandela is under the care of a "multi-disciplinary" panel of medical experts drawn from the SA Military Health Services and others. The military doctors will say and do what their Commander In Chief tells them to say and do. Nelson Mandela is still the glue that holds the ANC together. I do believe our Commander In Chief is afraid to let that glue go hence the family’s bid to get a court order to turn off the life support that is keeping Mr. Mandela “alive.” After all this time of being so critically ill Mr Mandela’s body must be riddled with bed sores and it must be in a totally emaciated state. Please God have mercy on Mr Mandela – take control of that situation – take him to Yourself and hold him close. In Jesus name we pray.

  • Sheik Mohammad - 2013-07-05 01:02

    Mac and his boss have planned Mandela's birthday party, and they are going to keep him alive just so as to not miss out on a party. They print these large posters and stick them on the ANC head quarters knowing he has no chance of leaving the hospital..........vultures.

      Lionel De Frontignac - 2013-07-05 05:14

      Exactly: Weekend at Bernies, with Madiba propped up in a deckchair at Zuma's pool, "sharing" Mqoboti from a 5l paint tin...

  • Phae Rayden - 2013-07-05 01:38

    Can this horrific situation be real? The disgusting display of lies and manipulation by whom I can't even figure out anymore because there seem to be so many people involved it is staggering. How far has this country sunk into dysfunction that it allows these lies to be played out in our faces using the media? Understandably the family wants privacy to some extent but to allow this three ring circus to continue is despicable, shameful and totally unacceptable. Why aren't we demanding respect and to be taken seriously enough to be told the truth? Or are we going to wait for an opposition party of any kind to step up and demand on our behalf? South Africans can be such pathetic wimps it's no wonder we get abused and pushed around so often.

  • Josephine Zenzi Radebe - 2013-07-05 02:02

    Its enough now about all this stories,just let the old man rest!!He is quite lying in that bed with those white sheets but your all busy talking talking,he can't even know or hear what is said about him so let's just shut up and wait for the day that we don't know,then you can start talking again!!

  • Louis Hager - 2013-07-05 02:12

    Stop hiding behind jargon end big word that you, yourself do not understand Mac. How's that for a start? Then move over to the truht. The truht may feel strange at first, but it is as they say stranger than fiction.

  • Richard Scully - 2013-07-05 02:48

    It's funny that these chief ANC papas all use white lawyers when they get into the court room but want to force BEE and AA on everyone else.

  • Mathekga Ngoako - 2013-07-05 03:02

    Who is fooling who?

  • Carlo Johann Oerson - 2013-07-05 03:23

    How come's Tata's Health Condition such a Top Secret Scenario? We know it's about Respect regarding He's health treatment behind close doors, but isn't it time to assure, the World Icon's, Suppoters with a Piece-of-Mind of what's really happening in His ICU-Room. Unvail the Curtains or are speculations true that Life-Support Machines had to keep Tata alive, for Him to reach 95 ???

  • Mpadu - 2013-07-05 03:55


  • Lionel De Frontignac - 2013-07-05 04:05

    The presidency have absolutely k\no credibility - so when Zuma's pimp opens his mouth, we know the opposite is true.

  • Colin Ashby - 2013-07-05 04:10

    Stable until his birthday then Tyre switch will be turned off

  • Lionel De Frontignac - 2013-07-05 04:11

    A movie springs to mind: Weekend at Bernie's.

  • Nicola Erasmus - 2013-07-05 04:35

    Are you telling us that the Mandela family committed fraud by submitting a falsified certificate of urgency?! For $%&@ sakes, stop with the "critical but stable" nursery rhyme and give us real updates or just leave it and let the people rather speculate. Frankly, the comments here make more sense than any statement from the presidency the last 3 weeks.

      Lionel De Frontignac - 2013-07-05 05:17

      FYI, it is the Advocate who has to sign the certificate of urgency. And if that advocate is committing fraud,as an officer of the court, she/he would be struck from the roll - see Law Society Versus Merritt, where an attorney lied to the court and was eventually struck from the roll.

  • Annemarie White - 2013-07-05 04:41

    This is ridiculous. What business is Mandela's health (or lack thereof) of the government? These are family matters, private and personal.

  • Natasha Brits van Oudheusden - 2013-07-05 04:46

    He was probably in a vegetative state before he died two weeks ago. Unfortunately it was not at a convenient time for the government and/or family so he will officially die when it is more convenient. How rude of him to be so inconsiderate. I hope next time he dies he will take everyone's schedules and agendas into consideration.

  • Ketlhoile Semorafe - 2013-07-05 04:52

    Whats wrong with our society,are we under some sort of a spell or have we been morally hypnotized? Nelson Mandela's role in shaping our democracy is something that should be cherished by all,not just by those who were oppressed but by the oppressors themselves. And by oppressors i'm not only referring to those who supported the apartheid government but i'm also referring those who are against the ideals of freedom and democracy. Mandela's life epitomizes the true spirit of humanity and selflessness. He put Africa on the map by putting aside his personal interests in life and chose to live for others. And all of this caused him a great deal of painful sacrifices but those did not deter him from his vision of standing up for justice and equality for all. It is strange to see how we easily forget where we come from as a nation and where we could have been if we did not have people like Mandela. My concern is that instead of making a better people,our history seems to have made us a worse people. Our history is a history which strives for unity and forgiveness but we have become a divided and unforgiving nation. Mandela's plight for unity and reconciliation was a foundation for a new South Africa of peace,stability and growth for its people but after all his sacrifices,here we are,making a mockery of his vision and his love for this country. My hope is that if and i mean if God has to call him,his legacy will not die with him and his humanity and love for this country will continue to live in us. Lets honor now when he is still alive,it would be useless to sing his praises when he is no more. Irrespective of who you are,whether you are black,white,colored,indian,a politician,ordinary South African,media,business,NGO,organized labor,rich or poor, Mandela played a big role in who you are today. So lets respect him and honor his legacy.

  • Stefan Lauber - 2013-07-05 04:59

    I think he was referring to Zuma

  • Johannes Malesela Mokau - 2013-07-05 05:05

    "critical but stable condition"this goverment and makaziwe are just the same

  • Alta Steyn - 2013-07-05 05:06

    Oh dear, first it was his money, then where his children were buried, then again about his money, and now about who has control whether he lives or dies. What a shameful family this is. They have no cooking clue what human dignity is about, do they? I really hope than Mandela will be able to rest in peace.

      Louise Venter Coetser - 2013-07-05 06:08

      Well said Alta, I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Thobile Lungile - 2013-07-05 05:22

    Ay! I don believe a single word 4rom Mac's mouth nw cos they ar busy contradicting and misleading abt mandela's condition,i reckon the man is dead already! Y lies