South Africa waits after Mandela’s condition worsens

A well-wisher carries a portrait of former South African President Nelson Mandela outside the Pretoria hospital where former President Mandela is being treated, June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Two men in South Africa read about Nelson Mandela’s condition in a local paper. Credit: Reuters

South Africans prepared Thursday to say farewell to ailing anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela after his condition deteriorated further, forcing President Jacob Zuma to cancel a trip to neighboring Mozambique.

Zuma was due to attend a summit in Maputo of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to discuss regional infrastructure, but pulled out after visiting the 94-year-old former president in the hospital late Wednesday.

“Over the past 48 hours, the condition of former president Madiba has gone down,” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told state broadcaster SABC, using the clan name by which Mandela is affectionately known.

Maharaj said Mandela’s condition remained critical. He declined to comment on media reports that he was on life support in the Pretoria hospital where he is being treated for a lung infection, saying his privacy should be respected.

Mandela has already spent 20 days in the hospital, his fourth hospitalization in six months.

This has forced a growing realization among South Africans that the man regarded as the father of their post-apartheid “Rainbow Nation” will not be among them for ever.

“Mandela is very old and at that age, life is not good. I just pray that God takes him this time. He must go. He must rest,” said Ida Mashego, a 60-year-old office cleaner in Johannesburg’s Sandton financial district.

Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, is admired around the world as a symbol of resistance to injustice for the way he opposed his country’s apartheid system, spending 27 years in jail, more than half of them on notorious Robben Island.

He is also respected for the way he preached reconciliation after the 1994 transition to multiracial democracy following three centuries of white domination.

‘Celebrating his life’

President Barack Obama is due to visit South Africa this weekend as part of a three-nation Africa tour he has already started in Senegal. Maharaj said it was too early to say whether Obama’s schedule in Johannesburg and Cape Town on Saturday and Sunday might be affected by Mandela’s worsening condition.

Well-wishers’ messages, bouquets and stuffed animals have piled up outside Mandela’s Johannesburg home and the wall of the hospital compound where he is being treated in the capital.

As they headed to work Thursday, South Africans seemed resigned to the prospect of losing their hero.

“We are all going to feel bad when he passes, but at the same time we will be celebrating his life. He has done so many great things for this country,” said John Ndlovu, a 25-year-old office worker.

Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one five-year term in office.

Since then he has played little role in public life, dividing his time in retirement between his home in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Houghton and Qunu, the village in the impoverished Eastern Cape province where he was born.

The public’s last glimpse of him was a brief clip aired by state television in April during a visit to his home by Zuma and other senior officials from the ruling African National Congress.

At the time, the 101-year-old liberation movement assured the public Mandela was “in good shape,” although the footage showed a thin and frail old man sitting expressionless in an armchair.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.