Madiba's doing better, but still 'serious'

The president says Madiba's health continues to improve and has appealed for more prayers.

FILE:Nelson Mandela is being treated for a lung infection in the Pretoria Heart Hospital. AFP PHOTO/ALEXANDER JOE

PRETORIA - President Jacob Zuma visited Nelson Mandela in hospital together with ANC Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize on Thursday evening.

Mandela was rushed to hospital during the early hours of Saturday morning for a recurrence of a lung infection he was treated for several months ago.

In a statement released after the visit, The Presidency said Madiba's health continues to improve but remains serious nearly a week after he was admitted to the Pretoria Heart Hospital.

The statement quoted Zuma as saying, "Madiba's health continues to improve but his condition remains serious. We continue to appeal to people to keep Madiba in their prayers and wish him a speedy recovery."

Earlier in the day, Zuma said South Africans shouldn't create a superficial image of Mandela.

In his address to the National Assembly on Thursday, the President said the statesman needed to be remembered as part of the Defiance Campaign, commander-in-chief of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), as a revolutionary and long-serving prisoner.

He said people should not only remember Madiba as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.


Mandela was also visited by his daughters Zenani and Zindzi.

Zindzi's two children, Zoleka and Zondwa, also visited their grandfather for about an hour.

Madiba has mostly been receiving visitors in the afternoon. His ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and current wife Gra├ža Machel have travelled to the facility during his hospitalisation this week.

Madiba's eldest grandson, Mandla, arrived in Johannesburg from the Eastern Cape on Wednesday. He said his family was touched by the outpouring of support from the public.

Meanwhile, support and well wishes continue to come from all over the country.

Two musicians drove through from Witbank to wish Madiba well through song last night. Deon Grobbler said without Madiba's influence, South Africa would not be where it is today.

"He gave us freedom and [united] many nations. He's done a lot and is a father to Africa."


At the same time, the facility has had to deal with complaints about how the increased police presence has affected other patients.

Cardio patient Maxwell Mkonto told Eyewitness News he was manhandled by police when he came out of the facility for an appointment because they thought he was a journalist trying to enter the hospital.

Another man was also prevented from visiting his father, who is a patient at the hospital

However, the hospital said the safety of its patients was its first priority and it was investigating the police's conduct.

The hospital management said measures were in place to ensure the incident didn't happen again.


In the Eastern Cape, the dean of the law faculty at the University of Fort Hare said the institution regarded itself as Mandela's academic home.

The faculty was formally named the "Nelson R Mandela School of Law" in 2002.

As a young student, Madiba began studying at the university's Alice Campus but was expelled for taking part in a student protest.

Professor Obeng Mireku smiled when he spoke about Mandela on Thursday, recalling some of the stories which dated back to the statesman's younger days.

"He had a very active student life. He realised that the opportunity that he had gotten to be admitted as a law student could be enhanced if he only he decided to seek social justice."

For the latest updates on Mandela's condition follow @ewnreporter on Twitter.