Media brave the cold for news on Mandela

A media scrum was still outside a hospital in Pretoria on Monday morning where former president Nelson Mandela was believed to be admitted on Saturday for a recurring lung infection.

All parking spots in the street adjacent to the hospital were taken by 7am.

More than seven outside broadcast vans were on the scene and numerous cameras were focused on the two hospital entrances.

Some passers-by enquired from the journalists how Mandela was doing in hospital.

The elder statesperson was admitted to hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning.

On Saturday, the presidency issued a statement saying Mandela was in a "serious but stable" condition and suffering from a recurring lung infection.

In an interview with eNCA over the weekend, presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said he was pleased at the way Mandela's latest hospital stay was being handled by the public across the world. Maharaj said the world expressed "concern" and that people were understandably anxious about Mandela's health, but that "false stories" were not being spread.

"They are coming to terms with reality," Maharaj said. He did not respond to further questions on Saturday evening.

Ban on visiting Madiba
He added that while Mandela was a long-time sufferer of lung disease, his age would affect his recovery. But since then, no official update has been available. July 18 will mark Mandela's 95th birthday.

The Star newspaper reported that the Mandela family had taken charge of the Nobel Peace Prize winner's hospital stay, banning everyone – including government leaders and senior party officials – from visiting him.

"Mandela Lockdown", read the Star newspaper's front-page headline on Monday, accompanied by a report on his family apparently banning government and senior ANC officials from visiting him.

Mandela has recently been in and out of hospital. At the end of March and in April this year, he spent nine days in hospital receiving treatment for recurring lung problems.

Earlier in March, he was admitted to a Pretoria hospital for a scheduled check-up and was discharged the following day.

In December last year, Mandela underwent an operation to remove gallstones and treat the recurring lung infection. He was discharged after an 18-day stay and placed under home-based high-care at his Houghton home.

Virtual void of information
In January, the presidency said Mandela had made a full recovery from the surgery and continued to improve. In February last year he was admitted to hospital for a stomach ailment.

In January 2011, a virtual void of information marked Mandela's admission to Johannesburg specialist care Milpark Hospital. With very little information to go on at that time, speculation was rife and reports of his death started running on social networks.

Finally, on January 28, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and surgeon general Vejaynand Ramlakan addressed a media briefing on his health.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which customarily managed publicity for Mandela, only broke its silence on Monday, January 31 2011.

This was after then Sunday Independent editor Makhudu Sefara wrote a piece called "The making of an unnecessary crisis". 

In his piece, he said Mandela had a collapsed lung and that the foundation's spokesperson Sello Hatang had lied when he said that hospitalisation was routine.

Sefara later withdrew the statement about the lung and the comment that Hatang was a liar. – Sapa


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