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Africa

Mandela's whereabouts still a mystery

Every day the president's office drip-feeds information on the health of Nelson Mandela.
Last modified: 31 Mar 2013 10:14
Doctors said Mandela was responding positively to treatment after being readmitted due to a lung infection [AFP]

We are camped outside a hospital in Pretoria and we do not know whether or not the man South Africans call Madiba is actually inside. Or even how he really is.

Once again, his condition and whereabouts are a mystery - the same thing happened earlier this year when he spent three weeks in hospital; the media and the country were fed a campaign of disinformation.

Nelson Mandela's team has wised up to media intrusions, worried that cameras and scrutiny will swamp and upset the ailing 94 year old and his family.

We are guessing that he might be at the Medi-clinic Heart Hospital in the centre of Pretoria. He has spent time there before and most of the media believe he is there; a panoply of camera crews, lights and journalists show their conviction. Or he could be at the military hospital, because, we have been told that "South Africa's best military doctors are attending to him".

Either way, it is an uncomfortable feeling waiting on the condition of a man who has made such an impact on so many people’s lives. He effectively dismantled Apartheid, prevented a country from descending into bloodshed and even more impressive, after 27 years in jail where he was mistreated, not allowed to attend the funerals of two of his family members and from where he watched his country descend into chaos, he forgave … unconditionally. Again and again.

Every day the Presidency's office drip-feeds information on his health. We now know that he is in good spirits, has eaten a full breakfast, is responding well to treatment and that his lungs have been drained after a recurrence of pneumonia.