Tight security at Mandela hospital

Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria
Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria

Nine police officers were manning the entrance of the Pretoria hospital where critically-ill former president was being treated on Thursday.

The officers were screening all vehicles entering the hospital through the Park Street entrance at 6am.

Another police contingent was manning the other entrance on Celliers Street.

Despite the biting cold, local and international media started regrouping outside the hospital after 5am.

A dozen candles burnt through the night next to the Celliers Street entrance.

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.

Numerous passers-by momentarily stopped on Thursday morning, observing the various presents brought for Madiba.

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.

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 handful were milling around near the hospital.

Numerous tents, generators, broadcasting cameras on tripods and broadcast vans had 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.

The metro police barricaded Celliers Street, allowing media vehicles and cars of residents of the street.

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.

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. – Sapa