Al Jazeera Blogs


Africa

Capitalising on Mandela health scare

Some South Africans use Mandela's hospital stay as an opportunity to make a quick buck from journalists.
Last modified: 11 Jun 2013 19:24
Crews from international and local news organisations have set up camp outside the hospital in Pretoria [AP]

It was bound to happen - ordinary South Africans have found ways to capitalise economically on Nelson Mandela's latest health scare. 

The hospital which the former president of South Africa is believed to be treated in is located in a fairly busy part of Pretoria.

Foreign and local journalists are parked opposite the health facility - some are even sleeping here. We have put up tents, brought pillows and blankets, tables and chairs. A few even have camper vans.

Most of us don't dare to leave the street or stray too far in case we miss the "breaking news" or something.

Ordinary South Africans keen on making money were quick to realise this. They've started coming to us, the journalists.

One family is renting out their balcony overlooking the parking lot of the hospital for around $350 a day.

Others are hiring out their cars and buses to journalists - offering to ferry the media hounds to and from the hospital and carry the camera equipment flown in from all over the world.

There are no good restaurants or fast food places nearby, so one company started distributing pamphlets on Tuesday, offering to deliver meals to journalists camping outside the hospital.

Now all we need are toilets, water and someone to provide tea, coffee and hot chocolate. It's the middle of winter and freezing cold out here, especially at night.

I wonder what bright spark will come up with a plan to supply these much needed services to journalists eager to pay for a little comfort?