Madiba hospital visits to be expected – Mandla

Lulamile Feni

NELSON Mandela’s old age means sometimes he will need to go to hospital, his grandson Nkosi Mandla Mandela has said.

Mandla was speaking at his Mvezo Great Place after the funeral of Florence Nondlela Mandela, 96, in Qunu on Saturday. Florence, a cousin of Mandela, lived in Qunu. She died earlier this month.

“I don’t want to discuss Nkosi Dalibhunga’s [Mandela’s praise name] health, but the reality is that he is an old man who will need to be taken to hospital at any given time,” said Mandla.

Mandla asked people at the funeral earlier to continue praying for his ailing grandfather and said the prayers kept Madiba strong. “Nkosi Dalibhunga will only gather strength, get better and rise from his hospital bed through your prayers as South Africans and the world.

“Please keep on praying for him and us as a family. He does not belong only to us as the family, but to all South Africans, Africa and the whole world,” said Mandla.

Rev Vuyani Manciya announced at the funeral that Mandela’s clan nephew, AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, had called all AbaThembu, traditional and church leaders and congregants to his Bumbane Great Place for a mass prayer meeting for Mandela this Saturday.

While appreciating the call, Mandla said it was a pity the Mandela family had not been consulted. “This is the first time I hear about it. Although it is a good gesture by King Zwelibanzi [Dalindyebo’s praise name], his majesty as our relative was supposed to have consulted with us first.”

Dalindyebo’s spokeswoman declined to comment on Mandla’s comments but confirmed the planned prayer meeting.

Mandla said when he recently visited Madiba in hospital, he was happy with the progress his grandfather was making.

“When we left him he was looking better. Though it is a difficult period for the family, we have been heartened by the overwhelming messages of support and prayers,” he said.

Mandla also praised the SANDF medical team looking after his grandfather.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Christians was turned away from Mandela’s Qunu home yesterday when they came to offer prayers. When the missionaries, from the Reformed Church of Christ and Apostolic Faith Mission, arrived at the Mandela house, two police officers at the gate turned them away. Two of them, while trying to take pictures of themselves outside the house, were briefly arrested and held inside a security room at the gate.

This resulted in a heated exchange between the group and the police.

Meanwhile, addressing a Youth Day gathering in Madadeni, KwaZulu-Natal, President Jacob Zuma mentioned Mandela’s health: “Over the last two days, although [his condition] remains serious, his doctors have stated that his improvement has been sustained.”

Mandela’s former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, visited him yesterday afternoon. – Additional reporting by Sapa

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