After 17 days of being told his condition was improving, the condition of former South African President Nelson Mandela seems to have nosedived. Will he live or leave?
Former President Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition in hospital last night. But his family said no matter what, it would not give up. The 94-year-old former South African president suffered a sudden deterioration in his health Sunday night. He was taken to the hospital over two weeks ago for treatment for a recurrent lung infection.
Many South African have resigned to faith over his worsening health condition. They are praying to God to prolong his life and also acknowledging the fact that the end may not be far away.
His eldest daughter Makaziwe told CNN the family would not end his medical treatment.
She said: “In our culture, the Tembu culture, that I know, the African culture that I know you never release the person unless the person has told you ‘please my children, my family release me’. My dad hasn’t said that to us. So these people who want to talk about, you know, release him, he hasn’t said we should release him and we haven’t come to the end yet. It is only God who knows the end.”
She added that she believed her father was at peace. She said: “Yes, I believe he is at peace. He is at peace with himself. He has given so much to the world I believe he is at peace.”
His granddaughter Ndileka added: “His fighting spirit is what amazes me. I don’t know what keeps him fighting and he is stoic and determined, that I will end things my way. Not any other person’s way. I strongly feel that whatever covenant he has made with his ancestors and god has not been fulfilled, when that is fulfilled he will bow out in a way that he chooses.”
Two of his granddaughters Swati Dlamini and Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway yesterday tweeted in support of their ill grandfather, describing him as their ‘rock’.
They wrote: “He is our rock, we are firmly glued together because of him. We are UNITED!”
Their message came just a few hours after they asked supporters to pray for him. They posted: “Let us never forget to pray. God lives. He is near. He is real. He is not only aware of us but cares for us.”
News of Mandela’s condition emerged after he was visited by South African President Jacob Zuma Sunday night. The South African president yesterday urged his countrymen to pray for the ‘father of democracy’.
He said: “Madiba (Mandela’s clan name) is critical in the hospital, and this is the father of democracy. This is the man who fought and sacrificed his life to stay in prison, the longest-serving prisoner in South Africa. He is one of those who has contributed to democracy. All of us in the country should accept the fact that Madiba is now old. As he ages, his health will … trouble him and I think what we need to do as a country is to pray for him.”
Speaking at a news conference, he added: “The doctors are doing everything possible to ensure his well-being and comfort.”
Pressed for further details on Nelson Mandela’s health, President Jacob Zuma said: “I can’t tell you what is wrong with him … I am not a doctor.”
He confirmed that he had seen Mandela in hospital last night, and that he had been asleep at the time. He said he had discussions with the doctors and with Mr Mandela’s wife.
Zuma said he was briefed by Mr Mandela’s medical team and told that his condition had ‘become critical over the past 24 hours’.
Zuma, in a statement, said: “The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well-looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands.
Despite previous claims that Mandela’s health had been improving after battling a recurring lung infection, it emerged in the early hours of Saturday that he had become unresponsive.
It was reported that his liver and kidney functions were down to 50 per cent and he had not opened his eyes for days.
Mandela recently underwent two procedures at Pretoria Hospital, one to repair a bleeding ulcer and another to insert a tube into his body.
Last night, his immediate family was said to be discussing whether to withdraw treatment.
It followed revelations that the ambulance which took Mandela to Pretoria hospital earlier this month broke down en route, leaving him stranded on the roadside for 40 minutes in winter temperatures.
South African government officials have said ‘great care was taken to ensure that Mandela’s health was not compromised and that his doctors were satisfied the former president suffered no harm.’
Mandela has been hospitalised four times since December but last night’s confirmation of his grave condition is by far the most downbeat report ever given about his health.
The status of Mandela is likely to overshadow the visit later this week to South Africa by US President Barack Obama. But Zuma said the vist would go on.
“If it’s his time to go, he can go. I wish God can look after him,” said nurse Petunia Mafuyeka, as she headed to work in Johannesburg.
“We will miss him very much. He fought to give us freedom will ensure forever. We will remember him every day. When he goes I will cry,” she said.
There were some concerns among the public about doctors trying to prolong the life of South Africa’s first black president, one of the 20th Century’s most influential figures.
“I’m worried that they’re keeping him alive. I feel they should let him go,” said Doris Lekalakala, a claims manager. “The man is old. Let nature take its course. He must just rest.”
The news of his condition has led to increase in the number of reporters hanging around the hospital not wanting to be beaten to the great story of the decade. More security men have also been drafted to the area.
The question on many lips now is: will he leave now or live?
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