Anxiety over the health condition of South Africa’s first post-apartheid president, Mr. Nelson Mandela, has heightened as he has stopped talking, the Sunday Times, a South African newspaper, quoted an unnamed source close to the family.
He was rushed to the hospital on Saturday without the knowledge of his family. “He has stopped talking…he is not looking good. It’s clear that something is troubling him,” the source said of the Nobel-prize-winning icon considered as one of the world’s foremost statesmen and a living legend.
The Telegraph of London said Mandela spent a second day at the Pretoria hospital where he is said to be undergoing tests. On Saturday, he was flown from his rural home in the Eastern Cape to the capital Pretoria to receive medical attention.
President Jacob Zuma visited Mandela, whose health has been frail in recent years, and “found him comfortable, and in good care,” a statement said. No details have been released about the specific reason for Mandela’s admission to the hospital, or when he will be discharged.
Mandela, fondly called “Madiba”, his Xhosa clan name, “will receive medical attention from time to time which is consistent with his age,” a statement said on Saturday.
Perhaps because of not involving the family and associates, former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was either not aware of the health condition or did not consider it anything to worry about. They attended a football match in Soweto between the Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday, local media reported. Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe had been scheduled to visit Mandela in Qunu on Friday, but the meeting was cancelled because a South African military plane crashed on Wednesday while flying from a Pretoria air base to Mthatha, the nearest airport to Mandela’s home in Qunu village, The Telegraph reported. There had been rumours that the aircraft was carrying medical personnel or medical supplies for Mandela.
His last public appearance was at the final match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which South Africa hosted, where he toured the stadium on a golf cart with third wife Graca Machel.
Worried by the uncertainty over his health, worshippers gathered at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in the Soweto area of Johannesburg to pray for the leader, Herald of Ireland reported.
The church was a centre of anti-apartheid protests and funerals. “Yes, it really worries us because he is a great person,” Shainet Mnkomo, a parishioner said as she left an early-morning service.
“He did so many things to the country; he’s one of those persons who we remember most.” Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for fighting racist white rule, became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 and served one five-year term.