As the family of Nelson Mandela feuds over the location of his eventual burial, court documents published Thursday revealed that doctors had informed them that the former President was in a “permanent vegetative state” and that they had been advised to turn off the life support that he was now, allegedly, dependent upon. A Guardian Express report, published Thursday, covered this latest twist in the painful saga surrounding the South African icon. That same day, however, Mandela’s doctors were overruled by South African President Jacob Zuma.
The current President arrived at the Medi-clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria where the former President is, allegedly, still being treated for the recurring lung infection that led to him being rushed to the hospital on June 8th. That evening, President Zuma issued a “clarification”, according to Britain’s Telegraph newspaper; in this “clarification”, Zuma announced that “the doctors deny that the former President is in a vegetative state.” The statement from Zuma also said that Mandela remained in a critical, but stable condition.
The Telegraph, itself, published a somewhat misleading headline; the article – a link to which can be found at the foot of this report – carries the title Nelson Mandela’s doctors deny he was in ‘permanent vegetative state’. However; upon reading the article carefully and studying South African media reports on the event, it becomes clear that no statement has been made by Mandela’s doctors and the only source for the doctors’ apparent denial of their own prognosis is President Jacob Zuma himself.
The Guardian Express originally reported that Mandela passed away on the night of June 25th, after we received information from a highly credible source, close to events on the ground in South Africa. This publication continues to point out that, since that date, no-one outside the Pretoria hospital – other than, supposedly, Zuma and the Mandela family – has set eyes on Mandela.
The intrigue now continues. Less than 24 hours after the release, by Paris-based news agency AFP, of the court documents that record the family being informed of Mandela’s “permanent vegetative state”, the South African President visits the hospital and promptly declares that the doctors now deny that he is in this condition.
The Guardian Express has continued to stand by its reporting on this matter, even in the face of cyber attacks – apparently originating from South Africa – which have taken down its website on more than one occasion. Madiba is, to all intents and purposes, no longer with us; even in the event that he remains connected to a life support machine, his body is merely being maintained at the most basic level of functioning, merely to await the resolution of a family feud – at which point, the machine will be turned off and his death announced. This assumes, of course, that Mandela even remains on life support at all and is not already gone. The other possibility is that Mandela did, indeed, pass away on June 26th and he remains attached to a life support device purely as a ruse; a truly macabre thought, but one that is not beyond the capabilities of Jacob Zuma.
Regardless of one’s opinion of the various Mandela relatives, it would seem difficult to imagine the discomfort that they must be experiencing, as a result of this situation. To have Mandela’s Doctors effectively overruled by President Zuma, who wishes to perpetuate the idea that his esteemed predecessor will recover – in order to satisfy some bizarre political agenda – must, surely, be heartbreaking for some of the family members and for the nation as a whole.
Graham J Noble