Winnie Mandela--Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife--visited the former South African President as he spent another night in hospital following a recurrence of a serious lung infection.
Digital Journalconfirmed on Saturday that Mr. Mandela had been admitted to hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning, Pretoria time. According to the South African presidency, the 94-year-old had been ill for some time at his Johannesburg home, but it was decided to have him readmitted to hospital after his condition worsened.
Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela joined his current wife, Graca Machel Mandela, at the hospital. Mrs. Mandela has been at her husband’s bedside since his re-admittance at the weekend. She was to have given a speech on hunger in London, but was forced to pull out after it became clear that her husband’s health was deteriorating once again.
Meanwhile, according to RTÉ, Mrs Madikizela-Mandela visited her ex-husband, accompanied by their youngest daughter, Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwan at Pretoria’s Mediclinic Heart Hospital, where the ailing former president is being treated. Their eldest daughter, Zenani Dlamini-Mandela – who is the South African Ambassador to Argentina – has also returned home to be with her parents.
Winnie and Nelson Mandela met in 1957. They married in 1958 following his divorce from his first wife (of 13 years), Evelyn Ntoko Mase, but separated in 1992, two years after his release from prison. Winnie was at her husband’s side in 1990 – the first time the couple had been seen in public for almost thirty years – when finally given his freedom. Evelyn Mandela died in 2004.
During South Africa’s first post-apartheid government, led by the newly-elected President Mandela, Mrs. Mandela was appointed Deputy Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology by her husband, in 1994; only to be dismissed by him the following year during corruption allegations levelled against her. The Mandelas divorced in 1996. They have two daughters, Zenani and Zindzi. Mr. Mandela married his third wife in 1998, on his 80th birthday.
Hospital authorities confirmed yesterday that President Mandela remained “in a serious but stable condition”. It’s the fourth time since December that Mr Mandela has been admitted to hospital for his ongoing lung-related health problems. Having recovered sufficiently on the previous occasions to be able to return to his family home – albeit with medical staff in constant attendance – South Africans are hopeful that he will do so again.
They were encouraged on Sunday by the words of one of Mandela’s daughters, Zindzi, who said that, despite being treated in intensive care at the hospital, “he was well [and] a fighter”.
Yesterday, as reported by Anne Sewell on Digital Journal, Rafael Nadal, who's just won his eighth French Open tennis title, retweeted that Nelson Mandela had passed away, after he received a tweet purporting to be from Piers Morgan, but was in fact from a fake Piers Morgan Twitter account.
Mandela’s vulnerability to respiratory problems is a result of his 27-year imprisonment by South Africa’s inhumane authoritarian apartheid authorities. His lungs were damaged after he was forced to work in a prison quarry and then, in the 1980s, he contracted tuberculosis while being held in jail on Robben Island.
As previously reported by Digital Journal, on Sunday, prayers were said for South Africa’s former president in churches throughout the country. The BBC’s Pretoria correspondent, Karen Allen, said, “There is a quiet hope that the man who led the fight against apartheid may regain his strength once again.”
Elsewhere, theipaper reports that the ANC (African National Congress) has denied that a row has erupted between Mandela’s family and the authorities concerning visiting access by government officials at the hospital. “Given the pressure associated with the admission of President Mandela, there are restrictions that permit only relevant people to have access,” an ANC spokesperson said.
Jacob Zuma, the current South African President – and the country’s third black president since the end of the apartheid regime – visited President Mandela the last time he was in hospital, in April, but has yet to do so this time. However, in a statement, President Zuma repeated his call for the country to pray for Madiba, as he is affectionately known.