Concern grows over Madiba's condition

Mandela’s doctors have denied that the former president is in a vegetative state.

A little girl is seen among messages of hope put up on a wall outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

PRETORIA - After a week of legal wrangles among members of the Mandela family, the focus is expected to return to the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria where former President Nelson Mandela is being treated for a recurring lung infection.

Concern for the statesman's health has heightened with media reports claiming Madiba is in a vegetative state.

The reports cite court documents which claim the family has been advised to switch off his life support machine.

The Presidency's Mac Maharaj said Mandela's doctors deny that he was in a vegetative state.

The Presidency reiterated its earlier statement released on Thursday afternoon after President Jacob Zuma visited Mandela in hospital that he remains in a critical but stable condition.


Mandela's grandson Zondwa says the family and the country should focus on unity and on Madiba's health.

"For as long as we can continue to spread the message to the South African public about the well-being of our grandfather, the positivity and unity of this country we'll overcome a lot."

He was responding to a question on whether a spat over the burial of Mandela's children could damage the family's reputation or even South Africa's image.

Zondwa, Mandela's wife Graca Machel and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale were among the guests at the launch of Nelson Mandela Sports and Culture Day on Thursday.

The event, being held on 17 August, will celebrate Mandela's legacy.

Over the last few weeks, South Africans and many others around the world have prayed for Mandela, but many don't have the words that would be most fitting.

So, on realising this, Chief Rabbi of South Africa Dr Warren Goldstein has composed a non-denominational prayer for Mandela which can be read below.

Chief Rabbi of South Africa's prayer for Madiba:

Dear G-d, Master of the Universe,

We, the people of South Africa, and indeed so many around the world, come before You in heartfelt prayer to beseech You to bless our former President, our beloved Madiba, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, at this time when he is so gravely ill and fighting for his life.

We ask You, O King, to protect Madiba from any pain and suffering, both physical and emotional, and to give him the strength, comfort and well-being he so desperately needs at this time.

We come together now, united in our belief in the power of prayer, and in Your compassion. We humbly give thanks to You, O L-rd, for giving us the gift of Nelson Mandela.

We are grateful for his heroic and selfless leadership of South Africa in guiding our country to freedom and democracy. We are grateful for his courage and dignity in adversity, and for his mighty power of forgiveness, which helped create this great nation. We are grateful for how he united us, and served as a dedicated and humble President.

In the merit of our unified prayers across this nation and the world, we also ask You, O L-rd G-d, to bless the people of this great country, of the miracle rainbow nation, and to inspire our hearts to walk in the path of Nelson Mandela, to live up to his majestic legacy.

And let us say Amen.