Nelson Mandela: What Were We Thinking?

The Truth Shouldn't Hurt the One Who Tells It

Nelson Mandela
On the morning of June 26, we received a message from one of our South African correspondents, Laura Oneale that Nelson Mandela had passed away the previous evening. The news had come to her in the form of a text message from an acquaintance who was well-placed in the South African media. It should be understood that this organization was not authorized to break the news. Clearly, the South African government and the Mandela family had already decided that the news would not be made public. Undoubtedly, this decision had been made even before his death; at least, that’s what we were thinking.

Our assumption, at the time, was two-fold: firstly, we doubted that such news would not long escape the attention of the international media, even if the South African media was being muzzled. As is the nature of the news media industry, we saw that we had been handed a major scoop and that our window of opportunity to be the first to break this news was limited. Cynical? Perhaps, but we did not doubt the integrity of the source, given that individual’s position. We are in the news business. What other publication – given the gravity of the story and the knowledge of Mandela’s health condition – would not have immediately prepared to publish? We began both to work on a couple of articles and to seek out verification. We found no other corroborating evidence. We wrote our stories.

In the interests of being completely honest, we cannot say that we did not second – guess ourselves. Did we have direct, first-hand proof that Nelson Mandela was dead? No, we didn’t. One must look at how news stories are broken, though: A media publication receives information from a trusted source; every good faith attempt is made to verify the information. In the absence of verification, the editor or editorial team must make a decision to publish or not to publish. What we did have was the best source we could have, other than first-hand, eye-witness testimony. Moreover, Mandela was seriously ill; according to reports, the icon and former African leader was on his deathbed; hooked up to medical devices that enabled him to breathe.

We published.

Now, we were walking on eggshells; our reputation was at stake. What were we thinking? Other news outlets actually published stories announcing Mandela’s death; they quickly retracted, without actually justifying why they had done so. To us, that in itself indicated that they had been told to retract, rather than doing so because they had discovered that Mandela was still alive. The Las Vegas Guardian Express, however, was a relatively new and completely independent publication with no government ties and no corporate owners or shareholders. We could not be pressured into retracting, other than through legal action. In addition, we were a tiny speck on the world news radar.

Naturally, it was in our own interests to quickly verify Mandela’s condition. Is that an admission that we published news of his death without being sure? No, it is not; we were sure and we could clearly see that an official announcement could be kept under wraps for any number of reasons; a visit by US President Barack Obama was already scheduled and there were obvious security implications. Additionally, the South African government is absolutely capable of using such news for political purposes. Our only misgiving was that we had failed to uncover any corroborating source. The strength of our conviction is proven by the fact that, even as the days went by and no word of his death came from official or family sources, we maintained our position. It seemed logical enough that there was no reason to retract without absolute proof that Nelson Mandela still lived.

As the few articles we published drew attention – along with numerous comments – it became self-evident that both the South African government and the Mandela family were aware of our reports. Had we been wrong – and had the family been able to prove that Mandela was still alive – it is beyond doubt that the Las Vegas Guardian Express would have received some form of legal threat. Not only did such action never transpire, but our publication was subjected to cyber-attack: Denial of Service attacks, originating in South Africa, disabled our site on more than one occasion. We took this as proof that we were reporting something that the South African government did not want us to report.

It should be remembered that our publication was relatively small and generated only modest revenue through advertising. Nevertheless – and at considerable expense – we dispatched a senior editor to South Africa. During his time there, Michael Smith uncovered intriguing details of the situation regarding Nelson Mandela, the family, the African National Congress and South African President Jacob Zuma. Our investigations opened a door into the corruption and dishonesty of the aforementioned parties. During a Mandela family legal battle, documents emerged which stated that doctors had advised the family to turn off Mandela’s life support as he was brain-dead. At a later point, Zuma made a statement denying this, but we noted carefully that, while other news organizations were reporting that the doctors themselves had retracted their claims that Mandela was brain-dead, no such retraction had been made; Zuma himself claimed that the doctors had retracted this assertion.

Now that it has been officially announced that Nelson Mandela has passed away, our position on the matter has not changed in any way. Inevitably, his passing had to be revealed. Many of our South African readers have believed us from the start; those that have criticized us have presented not one shred of evidence that we were wrong. The idea that we are proven wrong because the official announcement comes only now is absurd.

This article has not detailed every piece of evidence that fell into place during our investigation into why Nelson Mandela’s death was covered up. One of the most compelling discoveries was brought back from South Africa by Michael Smith: He returned with an audio tape of a recorded telephone conversation Between a South African Defense Force officer and a private security contractor. The audio can be found in the first of the links listed at the foot of this article. For the reader who wishes to get the full story of our reporting on this story, each of those articles listed provide, collectively, the complete picture. During the call, the officer details the circumstances of Mandela’s death – which, according to him, occurred even earlier than we reported – and the possible implications of it, as well as the Mandela family’s motives for not releasing the news.

Even now, the South African government, it seems, is attempting to prevent the Las Vegas Guardian Express from revealing the truth to the people of South Africa. Our Facebook page received a telling comment today. The comment reads:

I am from South Africa and for some reason I cannot view your website or any articles regarding Nelson Mandela. Is it possible that your site being blocked by our country?
could you kindly send the the articles you recently wrote.

Kind regards

Nelson Mandela is now officially dead – but he was already dead. Nothing has transpired between our initial June 26 reports and the present time to prove otherwise.

Nevertheless, we would be remiss if we did not convey to the South African people, that we have the utmost respect for Madiba and the great legacy he has left the world. However, as a publication, read by millions across the globe, we have an obligation and responsibility to report the truth and what we were thinking.


Editorial by Graham J Noble

D. Chandler Contributor.

Nelson Mandela Dies, Greed Lives On
Nelson Mandela Life Support Shut Down as Respected Humanitarian Dies Age 94?
Nelson Mandela, Death, Dishonesty and Denial
Mandela: Reporting His Death and the Search for the Truth
Mandela Legacy Betrayed by Family and Country
Nelson Mandela Family Finally Gives Up Charade and Admits Mandela Dead

Las Vegas Guardian Express Facebook page

26 Responses to "Nelson Mandela: What Were We Thinking?"

  1. Heather Villanueva   December 13, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I see alot of people nit picking every aspect of the article, mostly those that indulge in the government’s kool aid. Do these people so fervently dissect the information fed to them through main stream media, that has been proven time and again to print the version of propaganda selected by our government IE: Benghazi, Fast and Furious, IRS, NSA and so on? Is it only true if MSNBC says it is so? So many sheeple, so little time.

  2. R. Jones   December 13, 2013 at 12:52 am

    I don’t understand all the hate. If you don’t agree there is no reason to get on here and sound like a raging lunatic hellbent on making sure everyone knows how mad you are. I see no point but to discredit your honesty, and question why you’re on here rambling like a mad man. So it works in doing the complete opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

    As for the story, I guess only time will tell after it gets vetted more closely, and as other media outlets confirm, or debunk this story. I still think it’s too early to tell, but I see no reason why any news website would publish a controversial story that is false. Like I said, we will see in the coming days. No reason to be mad.

  3. dennis gorman   December 12, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Mr Noble thanks for the honest effort to bring news to Las Vegas and welcome to the world of truthers, check out i will have to read your paper now thanks

  4. Mike Tours   December 10, 2013 at 12:51 am

    lol so now the conspiracy extends to include the Government blocking your most newsworthy internet ramblings … I mean, How far fetched can you actually get – how pathetic your attempts to further milk this story …

    I hope you’ll at least do the “Noble” thing Graham, and donate all the money you receive for these silly articles to charity

    Beware – ANC ninjas are you to get you !!!!

    • Graham Noble   December 10, 2013 at 7:18 am

      I’m going to block you from posting further comments if you keep up the hate. In all your comments, you have never once posted one piece of information that disproves what we have said; you have never advanced a single logical argument; all you have done is ranted and raved against us and done so in an extremely vitriolic manner.

      You need to get a life. As for your continued insistence that we are some rag with no reputation, our rank among ALL websites GLOBALLY is 4846; we have more than 4.6 million unique visitors a month and among ALL US news websites, we are ranked 93. So, the numbers do not appear to support your fervent wish that nobody reads or trusts us.

      Seriously, Tours; If you have something sensible or useful to say, then say it. If you can advance the discourse, then do so, but one more piece of hate-mail and your banned.

      • Dave   December 10, 2013 at 9:35 pm


        Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

        Edit/Delete at will.

        • Graham Noble   December 11, 2013 at 7:07 am

          The guy irritates me to the point of distraction 🙂

          • Fred Botz   December 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm

            “4.6 million ‘unique’ visits”… from DDoS attacks

          • Graham Noble   December 13, 2013 at 5:27 am

            Your comment doesn’t make any sense.

          • Graham Noble   December 14, 2013 at 2:48 pm

            Perhaps you should do a little research before you make idiotic comments:


  5. Dave   December 8, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    The one single concern I have with this situation is this:

    With the eyes of the world trained on South Africa and every major news agency literally camping on the road outside the hospital, why would a “well placed” person in the South African media choose to share this information with a mostly unheard-of news website in Las Vegas?

    I mean no offense, it is truly the one piece of this puzzle I can’t seem to unlock.

    • Graham Noble   December 9, 2013 at 7:32 am

      It’s a fair question and comes down to nothing more than a personal connection between the source and our South African correspondent.

      • Dave   December 9, 2013 at 9:13 am

        Thanx for the response. I appreciate the value of personal connections in media, probably just thought the scope of the story would overshadow that and result in the info going to one of the more established agencies.

        • Graham Noble   December 9, 2013 at 9:34 am

          Our source was very concerned about risking their career for leaking the information. Other than the personal connection, it’s possible that the information was passed to us specifically because we were a relatively unknown site at the time…I really don’t know. Perhaps the source figured that no-one would take us seriously anyway – and many didn’t!

  6. Wilna   December 8, 2013 at 1:58 am

    I was just wondering how a person at the age of 95 could wean off life support? There were news in South Africa after he was taken off life support that he was sitting up and corresponding with his eyes and watching television. Do they really think everybody is stupid? How is that even possible? His heart apparently stopped in the ambulance on the way to the hospital when the ambulance broke down. Even if there were twenty doctors, what does that have to do with saving him without any means? 40 Minutes in a cold ambulance, in the dark and he still survived???

    I also believe he had died in June and it was kept secret for political reason which I believe will be revealed soon. Just my opinion.

    I am South African, living abroad and can see the news on this, but why can my family in South Africa not see this?

  7. Lesism   December 7, 2013 at 8:13 am

    You guys are genuinely crazy. :-/

    • Graham Noble   December 7, 2013 at 8:18 am

      Well, you are entitled to your opinion, but since you clearly have nothing to back up your insult, you just wasted your own time posting your comment.

      So…who’s crazy?

      • Mark   December 7, 2013 at 10:08 am

        Why was my comment not posted?

        • Graham Noble   December 7, 2013 at 10:13 am

          I’ll look into it. Most comments post automatically, unless our filter picks up something that it considers worthy of moderation.

          • Mark   December 7, 2013 at 10:28 am

            While I appreciate your attempt to explain your journalistic process, I also found it very troubling. Your reporter was sent a text message from another member of the media. You then unsuccessfully tried to find a second source, and ran the story anyway. Why even attempt to get confirmation if you were going to report it regardless?

            You also write that you didn’t retract the story because Mandela’s family couldn’t prove he was alive. So according to The Guardian Express, everyone is presumed dead unless they can prove they’re alive? Mandela was no doubt in a very frail state in the hospital, so it seems reasonable that his family didn’t want to release photos of this great leader looking so weak. Nor should they be required to.

          • Graham Noble   December 7, 2013 at 10:45 am

            Fair comment, Mark, and I would like to say that I attempted to honestly convey the fact that we would have preferred more verification of Mandela’s passing before we published. However; this particular South African media contact was better placed than any other journalist in South Africa to know what was going on. We really had absolutely no reason whatsoever to doubt that the information we had been given was accurate.

            After reporting that Mandela was dead, we did – in subsequent articles – challenge the SA government and/or the Mandela family to provide proof that he was still alive and we offered to retract and apologize, should they do so. The fact that they did not – and neither did they initiate any legal objection to our reporting – strengthened our belief that we were correct.

            Since we initially reported his death, our site has been attacked and taken down on three occasions; most recently, within hours of Zuma announcing Mandela’s death.

            This, in itself, is pretty compelling, would you not agree?

          • Mark   December 7, 2013 at 11:13 am

            Thank you for your response. I can only speculate on the reasons behind your site being attacked and taken down. You’re certainly welcome to use that as evidence that your reporting was accurate, but that sounds like a pretty big stretch. Seems to me that your site could have just as easily been targeted for spreading false information.

            As for the lack of proof that Mandela was still alive, why should the government and/or Mandela’s family be obligated to provide this information? Would you want your family circulating a photo of you lying in a (presumably) vegetative state in a hospital bed?

            I just think it’s premature to pronounce someone dead based on one source (no matter how reliable) a lack of proof that he’s still alive.

          • Graham Noble   December 7, 2013 at 11:26 am

            The Mandela family are notoriously fond of using litigation to get what they want. I absolutely believe that if we had been “spreading [provably] false information”, the family would have come after us with lawyers. I even think that the SA government would have had something to say about it.

            I do appreciate your take on it all. However; I stand by our reporting on this matter. One may indeed argue that we published prematurely and should have sought out further verification. We did try. I absolutely believe, however, that Mandela died on June 25th, if not earlier. There are just too many compelling occurrences and pieces of information that fell into place during our investigation into the cover-up of his death.

            Additionally, I firmly believe that, had he been alive when Obama visited SA, there is no way Obama would not have been allowed to at least visit his bedside. The fact that he didn’t says a lot.

            We can go back and forth on this forever. The fact is, now that he is dead, we will never be proven right or wrong unless, at some point, someone who was close to Nelson Mandela produces new information, regarding the circumstances of his death.


        • Graham Noble   December 7, 2013 at 10:20 am

          Sorry Mark, I do not seem to be able to locate a pending comment from you. Occasionally, they disappear without a trace. I’m not really sure if that’s a glitch in the WordPress editor or not. My apologies.

          Feel free to repost it. A word of advice: If your comment contained several links to other sites, it may have been considered spam – this happens frequently when people attempt to post numerous links in their comments.


      • Lesism   December 7, 2013 at 10:12 am

        You guys. I just said. Pay attention.

        • Graham Noble   December 7, 2013 at 10:15 am

          Pay attention? Seriously? I merely pointed out that I would have appreciated some clarification of why we are, apparently, crazy. Was that too much to ask? 🙂


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