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Conflicting reports on Madiba's health

There have been conflicting reports about former president Nelson Mandela’s health.

FILE: Former president Nelson Mandela is helped by his wife Graca Machel. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - There have been conflicting reports about former President Nelson Mandela's health over the past day.

According to court documents released by news agency AFP, the ailing statesman is in a "vegetative state".

The papers also claim doctors have told Madiba's family to switch off life support machines to avoid further suffering.

But the affidavits had no signatures from any of the 17 applicants in the case involving family graves.

Known as a certificate of urgency, the documents were designed to prove to the court that the matter be dealt with urgently.

The papers paint a picture of a frail man whose health has taken a turn for the worse. But this is in direct contrast with Mandela's wife Graça Machel, who yesterday said her husband is doing fine.

In a statement released late on Thursday, the Presidency denied claims that Mandela was in a vegetative state.

A "multi-faceted" team of doctors are attending to the 94-year-old former president around the clock, the statement added.

The Presidency maintains the global icon is in a critical but stable condition.

In an interview with the BBC, Mandela's friend Denis Goldberg said it was difficult to deal with constant speculation.

He visited Madiba at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria last week.

"There's been speculation about switching off whatever machines he's been on, so I asked about this. Graça [Machel] said the doctors say there has been no massive organ failure and therefore they are not advising them to think about it at this stage. They (the doctors) think he has a very good chance of recovery."

Goldberg said it appeared Mandela's condition was improving.

"I'm quite satisfied that he was responsive to what I was saying."

Mandela was admitted to hospital on 8 June for a recurring lung infection.

PRAYER SERVICE

Speaking at a special prayer service for Madiba at St George's Cathedral in the Cape Town CBD on Friday, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Nomaindia Mfeketo said Mandela's hospitalisation was unsettling and harrowing.

The historic and beautiful cathedral was packed with parliamentarians and members of the public.

Mfeketo said it was a reflective time for South Africans.

"Our nation has been on pins and needles. The thought of Madiba being unwell is unsettling."

DA Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said the service was very touching.

She said it was a good opportunity to pay tribute to his legacy.

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