Mandela's continued hospitalization triggers concern in SA

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Nelson Mandela
Pretoria, Dec 11: The South African media has expressed concern over the continued hospitalization of the country's former president Nelson Mandela even as the government assured that he is alright.

However, the anti-apartheid icon's wife told a TV channel yesterday that his sparkle "is fading." She voiced her pain at seeing Mandela "ageing" on the same day that the Sowetan, a leading English daily in South Africa, in its editorial pointed out why his poor health is causing such a great deal of worry.

"He symbolizes what our country can achieve with a statesman of his stature. He's our inspiration and personifies our aspirations. And that's why we dread his hospital visits, routine or not. That's why even now when we are told not to panic, we do," the newspaper noted.

Mandela is revered by an overwhelming majority of his 52 million compatriots. Though the 94-year-old was hospitalised on Dec 8, initially the government did not clarify where he is being treated.

Officials urged the people to respect Mandela's privacy. Apparently the government does not want a repeat of the chaos that was witnessed back in Jan 2011 when Mandela developed an acute respiratory infection and underwent treatment at a Johannesburg hospital.

In their eagerness to get the latest updates, reporters entered the hospital's wards as did several citizens. Since the other patients were disturbed by these intrusions, the military took over Mandela's care and subsequently released few details about his health condition.

This time, President Jacob Zuma's office stressed in its statement that Mandela "is doing well and there is no cause for alarm." After Zuma visited the Nobel Peace Prize laureate on Dec 9, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said that Mandela "had a good night's rest" and was "in good hands."

Yesterday, Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula finally confirmed that South Africa's first black president is receiving medical attention at the 1 Military Hospital here. She met Mandela and later revealed that he was "undergoing a series of tests to determine what is going on in his body."

Mapisa-Nqakula said that it is for the doctors to decide the date on which Mandela would be released. "He's doing very, very well. And it is important to keep him in our prayers and also to be as calm as possible and not cause a state of panic because I think that is not what all of us need," the minister added.

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