South Africans resigned to fate of ailing Mandela

Men read a newspaper next to a stall in Soweto June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
South Africa is preparing for the worst as Nelson Mandela’s condition worsens. Credit: Reuters

South Africans appeared resigned Monday to the inevitability of saying goodbye to former President Nelson Mandela after the hospitalized 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader’s condition deteriorated to critical.

Madiba, as he is affectionately known, is revered among most of South Africa’s 53 million people as the architect of the 1994 transition to multiracial democracy after three centuries of white domination.

However, his latest hospitalization — his fourth in six months — has reinforced a realization that the father of the post-apartheid “Rainbow Nation” will not be around for ever.

President Jacob Zuma told a news conference he and African National Congress Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had visited Mandela late on Sunday night.

Zuma declined to give specific details about his medical condition other than to say he remained critical.

“Given the hour, he was already asleep. We saw him, looked at him and then we had a bit of a discussion with the doctors and his wife,” Zuma said. “I don’t think I’m a position to give further details. I’m not a doctor.”

President Barack Obama is due to visit South Africa this week as part of a three-country Africa tour, but Zuma said Mandela’s deterioration should not affect the trip.

“Nothing is going to stop the visit because Madiba is sick,” Zuma said.

‘We will miss him’

Mandela’s deterioration last weekend, two weeks after being admitted in serious but stable condition with a lung infection, has caused a perceptible switch in mood from prayers for recovery to preparations for a fond farewell.

“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 for us to give us freedom. We will remember him every day. When he goes I will cry.”

There was some concern 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.”

Since stepping down in 1999 after one term as president, Mandela has stayed out of active politics in a country with the continent’s biggest and most important economy. His passing is expected to have little political impact.

His last public appearance was waving to fans from the back of a golf cart before the final of the soccer World Cup in Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium in July 2010.

During his retirement, he has divided his time between his home in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, and Qunu, the village in the poor 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 of the ruling African National Congress.

At the time, the 101-year-old liberation movement, which led the fight against white-minority rule, 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
Local

Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.

Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…