Widespread reports say the 94-year-old justice icon is doing well, but Associated Press described concerned Sunday morning worshipers at Soweto’s Regina Mundi Catholic Church as praying for the Nobel Laureate, a symbol of freedom and democracy around the world. The church “once served as a major rallying point for anti-apartheid activists,” the AP described.
The country of 50 million people, as well as people around the world, awaited word of his condition this week as an announcement from current President Jacob Zuma said only that he was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria for tests “consistent for his age” and that he is “comfortable.” Zuma reportedly visited President Mandela in the hospital Sunday, causing even greater concern since he did not visit during his last hospitalization for a minor surgery in February.
Additional information was being added early this week.
“There is no cause for alarm ... He [Mandela] is in the hands of a good medical team,” said presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj on Monday, according to GIN. An update on Mandela’s health will be relayed once his doctors update the presidency, Maharaj added.
Mandela is receiving medical attention from time to time which is consistent with his age, Maharaj insisted, adding that the family wanted to avoid Mandela’s health being treated like “a movement of share prices on the stockmarket”, and wanted his family to be with him without having to answer questions. It is believed he is being treated at One Military hospital.
A Qunu traditional ruler, Nokwanele Balizulu, told foreign news agency Agence France-Presse she saw Mandela shortly before he was taken to hospital, GIN reports.
“I was called by the Mandela family saying Tata [grandfather] is not well. I rushed there and I saw he is not well,” she was quoted as saying.
Mandela reached world fame as he served 27 years in prison for his opposition to the racist apartheid rule that once divided the country between Whites, Coloreds and Blacks. Millions of American activists, celebrities and politicians joined activitists around the world in decades of protests for his freedom. Released on Feb. 11, 1990, Mandela became South Africa’s first Black president in 1994 and served for five years. According to AP, he has lived in a remote village in the Eastern Cape area since retiring from public life two years ago after South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament.
The hospitalization comes as South Africa’s National Congress prepares for another presidential election. GIN reports that Zuma appears to have picked up the most votes from the country’s nine provinces, giving him the lead in the upcoming ANC vote for party head and to be its presidential candidate in 2014.
Votes will be tallied this month at the ANC’s national elective conference in Mangaung where factional discord is expected to boil over. Many believe the Zuma regime has buried Mandela’s principles of justice amidst of string of corruption scandals.
“Zuma’s government drew widespread criticism when police opened fire on striking workers at Lonmin Plc (LMI)’s Marikana platinum mine on Aug. 16, killing 34 people. That was followed by a wave of industrial action in mining, transportation and agriculture that has stunted economic growth,” GIN reports.
“When you have someone that’s willing to lead by example like he did, it makes things easier for people to follow,” a worshipper, Thabile Manana, told AP on Sunday. “Lately, the examples are not so nice. It’s hard. I’m scared for the country.”