Family force 'frail' Mandela to call off return to prison on 20th anniversary of release

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Cape Town, Feb 11(ANI): Former South African President and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela has called off a historic return to the Victor Verster Prison from which he walked to freedom 20 years ago today.

The decision to abandon his presence in events celebrating the anniversary follows a dispute within his family on managing the movements of the 91-year-old.

Earlier, certain reports in the media had suggested that family members were concerned about Mandela's frail health, and had decided against his availability.

Now, his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and other leaders of the African National Congress (ANC), including South African President Jacob Zuma, will lead the 500-yard march from the gates of the prison, now called the Drakenstein Correctional Centre, to the spot where Mandela ended his 27-year-long imprisonment.

According to reports, tensions over Mandela's appearance had arisen between Madikizela-Mandela and her daughter Zindzi, other members of the family, including his current wife, Graca Machel, and officials of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

"Something very strange has been going on. Wild horses would not keep Winnie away from an event like that. Everyone knows that if Mandela himself went, front-page news was guaranteed," The Times quoted a source, as saying.

"Others would be jealous, but he is very frail and it is difficult to stage-manage an event like that - whereas to maneuver him into the National Assembly is relatively easy in comparison," the source added.

Mandela's absence at the prison gates is certain to reignite speculation about his health and disappoint thousands of supporters and ANC faithful who are planning to attend the event. ANI)

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