Madiba: The world waits

It appeared to be business as usual for the Centre of Memory near Nelson Mandela’s home.

FILE: Former president Nelson Mandela is seen during a graduation ceremony at the Medunsa campus of the University of Limpopo in this file photo dated 4 December 2009. Mandela celebrates his 94th birthday on Wednesday. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

PRETORIA - There is growing concern for former President Nelson Mandela's health following the latest update from The Presidency that he's in a critical condition.

The Presidency released a statement on Madiba's condition on Sunday night.

Madiba was admitted to the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria just over two weeks ago with a recurring lung infection. He received treatment for the same condition during an extended hospital stay in December.

President Jacob Zuma, accompanied by ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, visited the statesman on Sunday evening. The pair was briefed on Mandela's condition and met Madiba's wife Graca Machel.

The medical team updated informed Zuma and Ramaphosa that "the former President's condition had become critical over the past 24 hours."

Zuma said: "The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands."

The Presidency's Mac Maharaj added that "over the past 24 hours the doctors said [his condition had taken] a downturn" and this warranted them saying his condition was critical.

Maharaj said the Mandela family's privacy was paramount.

"We appeal to the public to maintain and have due regard for the issue of patient-doctor confidentiality and his privacy."

The African National Congress also "noted with concern" the latest update on Madiba's health.

The ANC's Jackson Mthembu urged South Africans to keep Mandela, his family and the medical team in their thoughts and prayers "during this time".

"We're worried and that's why we're praying for his family and for the doctors," said Mthembu.

WAITING FOR UPDATES

Reporters have been keeping an eye on Madiba's home in Houghton, Johannesburg, in the hope of any update about the ailing statesman's health.

It appears to be business as usual for the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory close to Madiba's home where the lights have been switched on for the day.

In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Mandela's daughter Makaziwe said this was a very important time for the family.

"He's our dad, the children's grandfather and we've never had him for the better part of our lives. So this in a sense is quality and sacred time for us and I would expect the world to back off and leave us alone."

Meanwhile, it's exactly 18 years since Mandela made an historic appearance at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.

On Monday morning, former Springbok flyhalf Joel Stransky reflected on the team's triumph and the boost Madiba gave them ahead of the game.

Stransky said he would never forget when the former statesman flew into their training camp before the Rugby World Cup kicked off.

"He wished us luck and before the final he came into the changing rooms and had a special message for each one of us so he played a major role in inspiring us on that day. You should have seen the massive smile on his face - it was real joy when he presented us with that trophy. It was a special time."

While the number of journalists dwindled last week, the latest update from the Presidency has seen heightened activity at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital.

The ailing statesman has been receiving daily visits from his relatives, while his wife Graca Machel has been sleeping in a bed close to his hospital room.