Mandela is not in vegetative stage –Presidency

Nelson Mandela

The South African presidency said Mr. Mandela is in a critical, but stable condition.

Doctors treating former South Africa president, Nelson Mandela, have denied speculations that he is in a “vegetative state”.

The presidency in a statement said the global icon remains in the hospital in a critical, but stable condition.

“We confirm our earlier statement released on Thursday after President Jacob Zuma visited Madiba in hospital that Madiba remains in a critical, but stable condition,’’ Mac Maharaj presidential spokesperson said.

He said Mr. Mandela was under the care of a “multi-disciplinary’’ panel of medical experts drawn from the South Africa Military Health Services, the public and private sector, and universities.

“Under this panel, a team of doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health professionals attend to Madiba on a 24-hour basis.’’

The statement from the presidency came after court documents surfaced stating that Mr. Mandela was in a “permanent vegetative state’’ and that his family had been advised to turn off his life support machine.

The certificate of urgency dated June 27 and submitted to the Eastern Cape High Court was widely reported by local and international media.

In it, an advocate for the Mandela family said he had been advised by his instructing attorney that Mr. Mandela’s condition had “taken a turn for the worst and that the Mandela family have been advised by the medical practitioners that his life support machines should be switched off.”

“Rather than prolonging his suffering the Mandela family is exploring this option as a very real probability,” it stated.

The document was attributed to David Smith, an advocate representing 15 members of the Mandela family in a court case against Mr. Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela.

In the document, Mr. Smith described Mr. Mandela’s health as perilous, and said he was in a permanent vegetative state and was being assisted in breathing by a life support machine.

“Affidavits will be provided, at the hearing of this application, from his treating physicians that he is in a permanent vegetative state and is assisted in breathing by a life support machine.

“The anticipation of his impending death is based on real and substantial grounds,’’ he said.

However, a later version of the document filed in the court omitted the paragraphs referring to Mr. Mandela’s “vegetative state’’ and the advice by physicians to take him off life support.

Wesley Hayes, a lawyer for the Mandela family later told newsmen that the original certificate of urgency was “merely a submission outside of court’’.

“To the extent that there is speculation, a certificate of urgency was filed in terms of the practise of our court,’’ said Mr. Hayes, who represented the family in the dispute with Mandla Mandela over the graves of his father and his grandfather’s other two children.

“The certificate is not evidence, but merely submissions on why a matter should be heard outside ordinary court sittings,’’ he said.

Mr. Hayes said the ruling on the urgency of the matter had been made: in camera’’ and that this “would not extend to the contents of the certificate of urgency’’.

“Further than that we have no comment,’’ he said.

On Wednesday, the Eastern Cape High Court ordered Mandla to return the remains of his grandfather’s three children to Qunu from Mvezo, where he moved them in 2011.

The remains were those of Mandela’s eldest son Mandla Thembekile, who died in a car accident in 1969; Mandla Mandela’s father, Makgatho Mandela, who died in 2005; and Mandela’s first daughter Makaziwe Mandela, who died as an infant in 1948.

The bones were reburied at a ceremony at a grave site at Nelson Mandela’s home in Qunu on Thursday.


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