Nelson Mandela: Media vigil outside hospital

2011-01-27 00:22

Johannesburg - Local and international news media gathered outside the entrance of the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg on Wednesday night as they waited for news about former president Nelson Mandela's health.

Journalists who were inside the hospital earlier were moved out by security guards. A number of journalists on the nearby Emmarentia bridge were also sent packing by metro police officers.

Mandela was admitted to Milpark Hospital on Wednesday afternoon for what were described as routine tests.

By the evening, a veil of silence was drawn over his condition.

Staff at Milpark Hospital declined to speak to journalists who descended on the premises for news on the elder statesman.

By 19:30, the only formal word on the condition of 92-year-old Mandela remained a short statement issued by the Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesperson Sello Hatang around 16:15.

Good spirits

It stated: "We can confirm that Mr Mandela is at Milpark Hospital undergoing routine tests. He is in no danger and is in good spirits."

Hatang did not answer his cellphone for follow-up questions.

Mandela's daughter Makaziwi from his first wife Evelyn said: "You got the statement? No further comment."

Members of the Mandela family were seen coming and going at the hospital by reporters.

A staffer from the French news agency AFP saw Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, leaving the hospital around 17:30, with four other family members departing shortly after.

Another report said she returned later in the evening.

Makeshift barrier

At a far corner of the hospital, a makeshift barrier of green mesh was erected. Inside the area were VIP cars, presumably belonging to family members.

As night fell, journalists, photographers and cameramen lined a nearby bridge outside the hospital that gave them a full view of the barricaded area.

Later in the evening, metro police told them to move off the bridge. Some then took up position in the hospital parking lot.

One of Mandela's grandsons was seen buying magazines and refreshments at the hospital eatery. Ndaba Mandela and his youngest brother were also seen near the barricaded area.

High alert

Mandela's long-time aide, Zelda la Grange, flanked by a bodyguard entered the barricaded area.

Hospital security remained on high alert.

By 22:30, the immediate vicinity of the hospital had grown quiet, including the area around the barricade.

Some journalists sat inside the hospital waiting area, blending with hospital visitors and patients. One journalist carrying a brown paper bag, was seen limping in an attempt to blend in with the ill.

A hospital nurse standing outside the main entrance was overheard saying: "I saw him being flown in (by helicopter) at 14:00."


Mandela's "routine tests" came a day after Archbishop Desmond Tutu told Sapa that Mandela was "frail".

"I saw him last week," Tutu said in Cape Town on Tuesday.

"He was all right, I mean he's 92, man, you know. And he's frail."

Twitter was abuzz on Wednesday evening with news of Mandela being admitted to hospital.


Sandiso Ngubane, @Sandiso_N, tweeted: "My thing is; why would family members from Qunu come to check Madiba out during his "routine check-up"? Sometimes spin is just that... Spin!"

Other tweets speculating about Mandela's health included Siphojanuary who tweeted: " why would the family and high profile people be visiting #Madiba in hospital if he just went for a routine check-up???!"

RanjeniM tweeted "having dinner at Nelson Mandela Square cos only place I can feel close to him now. That statue is somehow comforting #Madiba".

"Hope Mr Nelson Mandela is okay n it really is a routine check up!! I'm really woRried **praying hard**," wrote another twitter user Purplemooky.

Twitter user Norwin tweeted: "#Madiba not in ICU; family and friends seen chatting and laughing. Hospital security stepped up".

"If something happens to Nelson Mandela tonight or in a day or so, do I close shop and let my staff off for the day? 80 employees nationwide?" user WarrenRSmith said.


Earlier this month, a report circulated on the social network that the elder statesman had died.

It was condemned as malicious and insensitive by the African National Congress.

Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport said though the rumours were false, reliable sources had confirmed that Mandela's health had deteriorated.

In mid-January, a Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesman said Mandela was well and on holiday with his wife.


President Jacob Zuma does not intend returning from the World Economic Forum in Davos in view of Mandela being admitted to hospital.

"The President is in Davos and will be there until January 28," presidential spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

"From there, he is flying to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to attend the African Union Summit. The programme has not changed."

  • Jonathan - 2011-01-27 00:36

    wow this is not looking good but i wish him all the best

  • xozamandi - 2011-01-27 00:41

    The Lord God Almighty is in control of the whole situation...

  • Lihle - 2011-01-27 00:44

    You're a great man. Get well soon Madiba!

  • Rita - 2011-01-27 00:49

    This report is just, almost, repeating previous reports....

  • Rita - 2011-01-27 00:50

    This is basically just a repeat of earlier reports...

  • Neo - 2011-01-27 00:52

    Our prayers are with you Madiba .... all the best!

  • Werner - 2011-01-27 01:02

    OMF. . I'm expecting to get chain SMSs urging me to "grab my gun" anytime soon.

  • esmeralda.valkant - 2011-01-27 01:10

    Our prayers are with you tata get well soon

  • botha.nathan - 2011-01-27 02:01

    All the best to Mr.Mandela and his family,so nice to see NO racial comments on this site foir once,just all South Africans concernced for our previous leader,refreshing

      Stanley - 2011-01-27 02:16

      thats becoz he treated ALL South africans as South Africans when he was in the driving seat...... todays government officials make us feel as if we are "settlers" and wonder why the sides are often highly polarized

  • CITIZEN - 2011-01-27 02:06

    can the media please leave madiba alone dont you have respect you always want to dramatise stories madiba please my big father get well soon

      jiamalunga - 2011-01-27 06:48

      The media has been preparing for this for the last 15 years. I know that CNN has a full blow studio that is lying in wait for 12 years odd. So sorry ne. This will be the newsmaker of decade.

  • Brandon - 2011-01-27 02:49

    Madiba and Desmond Tutu, 2 of the coolest guys we could ever have...where to after them?

      Ldn Saffa - 2011-01-27 03:27

      erm.....Jacob and Julias?

      IBI - 2011-01-27 04:09

      The cement that is holding the semblance of peace is 92 years old. With the cement gone, the building usually collapses. I cannot see any effective new cement replacing Madiba. He was destined and essential for his time. The same will be demanded of his successor to prevent real anarchy.

      Reality - 2011-01-27 07:10

      I agree with you. And I was totally taken aback recently when ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe said something to the effect that all the people that regard Madiba as an icon must remember he is a product of the ANC. Well Mr Mantashe, he is indeed an icon because he is the only one that is an icon for the right reasons. I am sure the present day ANC took at least 10 years off his life.

  • ebdg3000 - 2011-01-27 06:25


  • Allin - 2011-01-27 06:31

    What a lot of BULLSHYTE! This reads like a traffic report. Why wasn't the weather mentioned even once? Since the reporter had nothing of any value to say why not mention the makes and colours of the cars, what people were wearing, etc?

  • Candice - 2011-01-27 07:08

    Hope you get better soon - you are an inspiration to us all.

  • Candice - 2011-01-27 07:12

    I hope you get better soon - you are an inspiration to us all

  • captainblackrum - 2011-01-27 07:15

    you media vultures make me sick , leave the man alone ,the last thing he needs is to see the shadow of you vultures waiting to pick his corpse clean before he's even died. You should be ashamed.

  • Makwassie - 2011-01-27 07:15

    Oh all this idolatry! The guy is just a man, like everyone else. He also gets old. Eventually he will die, like the rest of us. Give him his peace for crying out loud!

  • gmck21 - 2011-01-27 07:16

    all the best madiba. You are a great man

  • spiderkzn - 2011-01-27 07:20

    Get Well soon. You have done great to our country... :)

  • Nomvula - 2011-01-27 07:30

    Let the man go rest,he has finished his race and it was a good one.

  • jmere2 - 2011-01-27 07:33

    I also like to wish our father,Madiba well.I just don't understant what kind of impression do our media want to sent to the nation?

  • sandrak - 2011-01-27 07:51

    Madiba, you are in our thoughts and prayers...

  • Podgette - 2011-01-27 07:53

    Sadly everyone has a lifespan. Wonder how many people support the ANC out of loyalty to Madiba and if once he is gone they will all desert that rat invested cesspit of a ship.

  • ginaclorenzi - 2011-01-27 07:55

    :( :( :( I REALLY hope he recovers soon, I know he's 92, but, please if there was one person that could live forever he would be a pretty good candidate. My thoughts and prayers are with Madiba and his family

  • JimmyBob - 2011-01-27 08:26

    I know the legend will always remain but I hope that he lives strong as we South Africans still have so much to learn from the great man

  • SKM - 2011-01-27 09:13

    Why are the family and the Nelson Mandela foundation being so secretive? Mandela is a public figure, and one of the most well known and respected figures in the world - the public have a right to know what is happening - it is obviously not a routine check up.

  • diranp - 2011-01-27 11:09

    His 92 years old, thats an accomplishment already, most people don't make it past 80... Good be with you sir, get better soon

  • nolukhom - 2011-01-27 11:38

    Tata, we do understand that you are old, but as much as its in the hands of our Creator, we are so used to your presence.Get well Diba, the nation is praying for you . lukho

  • mercutio9 - 2011-01-27 11:53

    I sincerely hope the government has an action plan in the eventuality of Mr Mandela's death (long live Comrade Mandela), as he is old and we have to be grownup about this and face facts. The people's grief has to be channeled. In every town and city there has to be church, african traditional as well as non-religious services for a nationwide vigil. It is vital that people have a structured, planned outlet for their emotions. Lady Diana's was handled well by the British in which people queued to write message of condolence which kept them busy. It is better to have a plan ready in every city, and for every township in order to better channel the swell of emotion which will inevitably happen.

  • bb - 2011-01-27 18:31

    The press are being very badly behaved.

  • Cheran - 2011-01-27 21:16

    My thoughts and prayers are with him to recover quickly. I love you Madiba!

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