The South African presidency says the health condition of Nelson Mandela has become critical.
The office of President Jacob Zuma said that the president had visited the 94-year-old Nobel Peace prizewinner anti-apartheid leader on Sunday evening, and was informed by the medical team that Mandela’s condition had become critical in the past 24 hours.
Zuma says in a statement that the doctors are “doing everything possible to get his condition to improve.” Mandela, who became South Africa’s first black president after the end of apartheid in 1994, was hospitalized on June 8 for what the government said was a recurring lung infection.
A day earlier, the anti-apartheid icon’s grandson, his grandson Mandla Mandela, said his grandfather was getting better and was expected to be discharged from the hospital soon. When he was first taken to the hospital in early June, reports said the ambulance carrying Mandela had broken down.
Zuma said that in that incident, “all care was taken to ensure that his medical condition was not compromised.” He also dismissed media reports that Mandela had suffered a heart attack.
Mandela was forced to wait for a second ambulance after the first one broke down, the South African government admitted Saturday. “When the ambulance experienced engine problems it was decided that it would be best to transfer to another military ambulance which itself was accompanied for the rest of the journey by a civilian ambulance,” the president’s office said Saturday.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki suggested Saturday that Mandela was getting better. After speaking to Mandela’s doctors, Mbeki told a South African radio station, “Nelson Mandela is improving in terms of his health. I don’t think anyone should entertain some sort of wrong notion that Nelson Mandela is about to die tomorrow. He’s not going to.”
Madiba is Mandela’s tribal nickname.
Britain’s Sky News reported that Zuma and ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Mandela on Sunday. Zuma also met Graca Machel, Mandela’s wife, at the hospital and discussed the former leader’s condition, according to the statement. Zuma appealed to South Africans and the rest of the world to pray for Mandela, his family and his medical team. Mandela turns 95 on July 18.
On Saturday, it was reported that the ambulance carrying Mandela to the hospital June 8 broke down while he was on board, requiring that he be moved to a second vehicle. Zuma said he had been assured “all care was taken to ensure his medical condition was not compromised.”
“There were seven doctors in the convoy who were in full control of the situation throughout the period. He had expert medical care,” he said, BBC reported.
In 1993, Mandela and then-South African President F.W. de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize. Mandela became South Africa’s first black president after the end of apartheid in 1994. He retired from public life in 2004 and has rarely been seen at official events since. He has been seen around the world as a leader of the movement for human rights and reconciliation. Mandela is now in critical condition as the world’s attention is on South Africa.