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Task team to manage news of Mandela's health

Staff Reporter

A task team made up of media and government officials is to be set up to deal with news reports on former president Nelson Mandela's health.

A task team comprising of local and foreign media, and government officials will be established to deal with future news reports on former president Nelson Mandela’s health.

Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said the decision to form the team was taken during a meeting between media and government representatives on Monday.

“The character of the meeting was very positive. There was agreement and a meeting of minds on concerns about former president Nelson Mandela,” he said in a statement.

“All parties expressed appreciation around the concerns regarding Madiba’s privacy and sensitivity in communicating on his health status.”

The task team would discuss how to manage Mandela’s possible hospital visits in future.

“All parties reiterated their resolve not to negatively impact on Madiba’s dignity and his family’s privacy.”

The presidency said Mandela was released from an undisclosed hospital on Sunday, after he was admitted to investigate an abdominal complaint on Saturday morning.

Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said there was “nothing wrong” with Mandela and that he was admitted to undergo a laparoscopy, also known as minimally invasive surgery, or keyhole surgery.

On January 26 2011, a virtual void of information marked Mandela’s admission to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, for a respiratory infection. By that Friday, with very little information to go on, reports of his death started circulating on Twitter.

It was only when he emerged on a hospital gurney, wearing a hairnet, that the rumours were put to rest. This had followed a packed press conference at 12.30pm on the Friday, January 28, addressed by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and surgeon general Vejaynand Ramlakan.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which customarily managed publicity for the 93-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, only broke its silence on Monday, January 31, 2011.

It subsequently emerged there had been a dispute over who should handle the information flow on Mandela’s health.—Sapa

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