Former president Nelson Mandela’s home in Houghton was quiet on Wednesday morning, with police cars occasionally patrolling the area as the former statesman remained in a critical condition in a Pretoria hospital.
At around 1.10am three cars and one van from the Johannesburg metro police came down 4th Street, and turned into the street where Mandela’s house is located.
The van at the back of the patrol switched on it’s hazard lights, reversed and parked in the street in front of the gate before flashing its headlights.
About eight officers got out of the vehicles and had a discussion in front of the gate for 10 minutes before they all got back into the cars and drove off slowly.
Police presence in the neighbourhood and patrolling increased on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, compared to other nights.
The presidency announced on Sunday that Mandela’s health had deteriorated.
At 11.40pm on Wednesday a police van pulled up outside the main black gates of the house.
Two officers walked up and down the road to ensure no cars were parked in the streets in front of and on the side of the house. The other four officers went inside the gates and came out about half an hour later.
After midnight the officers all got back into the van and drove off.
Soon after this, another police car drove up and down the streets before leaving.
After 1.30am a Gauteng flying squad car drove past the house slowly before speeding away.
The house was dark with all curtains and blinds closed. Only the outside lights, in the yard and outside the house, were on.
Outside the main gates, people had put bouquets of flowers and more stones around one of the big trees. The stones were painted in the colours of the South African flag and had messages such as “Nelson Mandela we love you”, “Get well soon Tata” and “We love you Madiba” painted and written on them.
The flower beds around the yard were colourful with painted stones in each of them. One had small South African flags spread over the stones.
The stones bore messages including “God Bless Madiba”, “Thanx [sic] father” and “I love you Madiba” painted on them.
They had been left by well-wishers in the days since Mandela was hospitalised on June 8 for treatment of a recurring lung infection.
Police officers and security guards would take the cards and posters left by people inside.
A single broadcast vehicle was parked outside the house opposite the ailing statesman’s house.
On Tuesday, the presidency confirmed that Mandela remained in a critical condition.
“[Mandela’s] condition remains unchanged in hospital, and doctors continue to do their best to ensure his recovery, wellbeing, and comfort,” spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.
On Sunday night, Maharaj said in a statement that the anti-apartheid icon and Nobel peace prize laureate’s condition had deteriorated and had become critical.
The presidency made the announcement after a visit by President Jacob Zuma and African National Congress deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
On Wednesday morning, it was quiet outside the Nelson Mandela Foundation a few streets from the former statesman’s house. Two cars were parked inside the premises. – Sapa