Midnight candles for ailing Mandela

Candles_flame_in_the_wind-otherA dozen candles burnt through the night on Thursday at the Pretoria hospital where critically ill former president Nelson Mandela is being treated.

The candles were placed next to a miniature art gallery established by well-wishers on the security wall of the Medi-Clinic Heart hospital in Arcadia, east of Pretoria.

Multicoloured balloons, flowers, pictures and paintings of Madiba, hundreds of get-well-soon cards, flags and banners totally eclipsed the Medi-Clinic signboard at the Celliers Street entrance.

The tributes and messages of support were pasted at the entrance by people from all walks of life, addressed to the celebrated anti-apartheid icon.

Some of the messages read: “No one knows the time, including Jesus and the angels, only God knows. No one will take you from us except our heavenly father. From Lynel Dlamini”

A message printed in a large frame read: “From the bottom of our hearts, we as Northern Sudanese love you and pray for you. We pray for our hero, our man Madiba to be out of this sickness with all power render[ed] from Allah the Almighty.”

Another well-wisher wrote: “Tata Madiba. You are in my prayers. A father to our country. One we will always look up to. Sending you all my love and well wishes from Cape Town. Love you always. From Charne Snyders”.

Others wrote: “Madiba you are my hero. Will pray forever for you. From Judia Tivane Holm [from] Mozambique”.

“Madiba be well. Long live freedom. Long live Justice. Long live hope. From Shabana Azmi [and] Sandeep Chachna [from] India

“I will always love you Tata. From Johanisa Ruiters. From Noupoort, Northern Cape.”

Before 3am, most journalists had left and only a few were milling around near the hospital.

After midnight, several news crews, mainly international broadcasters, were doing live crossings near the Celliers Street entrance.

Numerous tents, generators, broadcasting cameras on tripods and outside broadcast vans have become a permanent feature on the street’s sidewalk since Madiba was admitted for a recurring lung infection on June 8.

Tshwane metro police officers were parked near the large fleet of media cars, which occupied all the parking spots near the entrance.

Vehicles were entering the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital sporadically through the entrance along Park Street. The Celliers Street gates were closed for the night.

Late on Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma left the hospital at 10.15pm in a black BMW. He was escorted by a number of official cars with blue flashing police lights, which waited for him a street away from the hospital’s Park street entrance.

Zuma was followed by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in a black Lexus.

He arrived at the hospital just before 10pm. Mapisa-Nqakula arrived at 9.30pm.

Shortly after Zuma’s visit, the presidency said that Zuma had cancelled his visit to Mozambique on Thursday.

“President Zuma has decided to cancel his visit to Maputo, Mozambique tomorrow June 27, where he was due to attend an SA Development Community Summit regional infrastructure investment conference,” spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

Earlier in the evening, Mandela’s eldest daughter Makaziwe Mandela left the hospital at 6.20pm in a red Range Rover.

Thirty-five minutes earlier Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela left the hospital after her second visit for the day.

She left at 5.45pm after spending an hour at the hospital.

Two hours earlier, Madikizela-Mandela left at 2.45pm along with Mandela’s daughters Makaziwe and Zindzi Mandela as well as his grandchildren Ndaba and Ndileka Mandela, after arriving at 1.45pm.

Both Madikizela-Mandela’s visits were an hour long, her shortest since the presidency announced the former anti-apartheid icon’s condition deteriorated on Sunday evening.

The country’s former surgeon general, Dr Vejay Ramlakan, arrived at the hospital earlier on Wednesday. He stepped down earlier this year.

He returned in the early evening.

The presidency said on Tuesday 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, well-being and comfort,” Maharaj said in a statement. – Sapa