On June 26, 2013, the Guardian Express printed stories relating the death of Nelson Mandela, after learning that the Pretoria hospital where he was being treated turned off his life support system and allowed the great leader to pass on in dignity. Around the same time, other news agencies also reported the icon’s death, only to retract their stories immediately. With the news finally emerging that the South African legend is, allegedly, still on life support and in a “permanent vegetative” state, it is apparent that the Mandela family is colluding with the South African President Zuma to maintain the lie that Madiba is still alive.
Today, The New York Times posed an interesting problem for the Mandela family and their “legal standing”, according to South African medical law. According to the paper, a law that was passed in 2003 gave a legal definition of death in the advent of the individual being kept alive via a “life support” system. The Health Care Act of 2003, which provided a ground breaking and “clear-cut” definition of death in South Africa: The cessation of all brain activity. This definition still did not eradicate the legal minefield of what constituted death in these circumstances.
The 2003 law did give doctors the ability to take a patient off life support without the family’s consent – but only if the patient has a living will and if all signs of brain activity have stopped, according to Pieter Carstens. Carstens heads the Department of Public Law at the University of Pretoria and is an expert on the legality of medical issues.
According to the The Mail & Guardian, a South African newspaper, Nelson Mandela doesn’t have a living will. Allegedly, his family has not denied the lack of such a will. The family has not been forthcoming about whether or not Madiba had appointed anyone to act on his behalf in a “life or death” decision, such as his current wife, Graca Machel.
According to the family and President Zuma, Nelson Mandela is alive – in a critical, but stable, condition. They also maintain that the former president has been “responding” to treatment, despite the leaking of court documents proving that, at the very least, Mandela has been “brain dead” since June 26. it seems that there is a government collusion with the Mandela family to keep a “dead man” alive via a life support machine to avoid chaos in the country.
According to the New York Times, there is a precedent for this. The paper cites the case that actually brought about changes to African law dealing with “brain dead” patients.
In 1988, a general practitioner by the name of Frederick Cyril Clarke, went into hospital in Natal Province for a simple medical procedure to ease chronic pain. He had an epidural and had a heart attack during the procedure. Before Clarke could be resuscitated, he was declared ‘brain dead.’
Clarke was kept alive with life support equipment for four years. In March 1992, Clarke’s wife petitioned the courts to turn off her husband’s life support. In a move that was directly counter to the South African government’s position, the court ruled in favor of the wife’s petition and stated that Clarke had “permanently lost the capacity to induce a physical and mental existence at a level which qualifies as human life”
As a result of the ruling, Dr Clarke was taken off the equipment and was returned to his home where he died on April 14, 1992. It was a landmark case.
According to experts in medical law, however, there are still a lot of “grey” areas in the definition of death for patients on life support. This is what has allowed the combined family and government lie to continue.
Cheryl Webb, a counselor for the Family Law Clinic in Cape Town, believes that Madiba died on June 26 and that the truth is being hidden from the world. She told the newspaper that, “I believe, personally, that there is a lack of honesty in this matter You just get the feeling that the truth is not being told. We have elections coming up soon. There is talk of absolute chaos in the country after Mandela passes away. There are so many factors.”
The fact that Ms Webb works with families that have gone through similar situations, makes her opinion that much stronger. Other South Africans feel the same.
Bonita Meyersfeld, who is the director of the Center for Applied Legal Studies at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, told the paper, “Not long ago, I was told authoritatively, hands on heart, that Mandela had died by people who knew people. There is a great deal of misinformation. Nelson Mandela is an icon, but this time he is an icon for misinformation and not being told things.”
After a court affidavit – filed in June, over a dispute within the Mandela family about where the former South African leader would be buried – stated that Mandela was in a “permanent vegetative state” President Zuma immediately issued a statement saying that the doctors denied this was the case. Mandela’s doctors themselves, however, have not directly denied this; the world has only Zuma’s word that they did so.
Mandela family members and friends tell of visiting Madiba recently and that he is “sometimes awake, smiling, communicating with his eyes, even attempting to talk.” President Jacob Zuma is obviously working in concert with the Mandela family is perpetuating the myth that Mandela is, despite being brain dead, responding to treatment.
This sad and undignified dragging out of Nelson Mandela’s death with the combined collusion of both his family and President Zuma, appears to be an attempt to prevent the inevitable; a massive outpouring of grief and the loss of control over the people of South Africa by a corrupt government.
By Michael Smith