Friday, June 28, 2013

South Africa Prepares for Mandela's Passing

At WSJ, "Flowers, Cards, Hope Pile Up for Mandela":

JOHANNESBURG—The life of Nelson Mandela appeared to hang in the balance Thursday morning, as family members visited the Pretoria hospital where he was undergoing treatment and neighbors from his rural ancestral town prepared for the passing of South Africa's former president.

"Yes, tata's situation is critical…he doesn't look good," Mr. Mandela's oldest living daughter, Pumla Makaziwe Mandela, said in an interview Thursday on South African state television, using the local term of respect for an older person.

"But I think that for us as his children and grandchildren we still have this hope because you know when we talk to him he will flutter, trying to open his eyes and will open his eyes, when you touch him he still responds," she said.

On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma paid his second visit to the hospital in less than 24 hours in order to confer with Mr. Mandela's doctors. In a statement, Mr. Zuma said he was informed by the medical team that Mr. Mandela's condition "has improved during the course of the night. He remains critical but is now stable."

Late Wednesday, Mr. Zuma canceled plans to attend an infrastructure-investment conference in neighboring Mozambique, after conferring with Mr. Mandela's doctors at the Pretoria hospital where he was admitted June 8 to treat a lung infection.

Mr. Zuma's spokesman, Mac Maharaj, wouldn't confirm news reports that Mr. Mandela is on life support, or say whether Mr. Zuma planned to visit him again on Thursday.

Mr. Mandela, a revered champion of peace and racial equality who became South Africa's first black, freely elected president in 1994, has been hospitalized four times since December and suffered a string of respiratory ailments stretching back to the tuberculosis he contracted during 27 years in prison for opposing South Africa's former white-minority government.

Dozens of reporters and satellite trucks have converged outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria. They track every visit by family members and government officials—and capture the hopes and memories of well-wishers who have left a mounting pile of flowers, cards and balloons outside the hospital's gates.
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