Nelson Mandela in vegetative state,family asked to let him go

Doctors treating Nelson Mandela said he was in a “permanent vegetative state” and advised his family to turn off his life support machine, according to court documents dated June 26, obtained by AFP Thursday.

“He is in a permanent vegetative state and is assisted in breathing by a life support machine,” said a legal fi ling related to a family dispute over reburying the remains of three f Mandela’s children. “The Mandela family have been advised by the medical practitioners that his life support machine should be switched off.

“Rather than prolonging his suffering, the Mandela family is exploring this option as a very real probability.” The “Certificate of Urgency” document was filed by a lawyer representing Mandela family members who had successfully sought a court order to return the disputed children’s remains to the revered South African leader’s childhood home, after a grandson had them moved to his own village.

The document was presented to South Africa’s Eastern Cape High Court as President Jacob Zuma reported that Mandela’s health had faltered and cancelled a trip to Mozambique. The next day Zuma reported that Mandela’s condition had “improved during the course of the night”.

“He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night. The medical team continues to do a sterling job,” Zuma said in a statement dated June 27. Since then the government has said Mandela’s condition remains “critical but stable”, but has provided few details, citing patient confidentiality. Lawyers for Mandela’s relatives, family members themselves and government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Last week, a statement by Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe that his father was in a worse condition at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where he is hospitalised and that “anything is imminent” sent ripples of fear for the life of the iconic anti-apartheid hero. “He doesn’t look good  …  I’m not going to lie. But I want to emphasize again that it’s only God who knows when the time to go is. And so we will wait,” she was quoted telling the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in an interview.

She added: “But I think that for us as children and grandchildren we still have hope because when we talk to him he’ll try to open his eyes … When you touch him he still responds.”

Cancelled visit

The statements and activities in South Africa, including President Jacob Zuma’s decision to cancel a visit to the neighbouring Mozambique, only increased the anxiety with many making a perceptible switch in mood from prayers to Madiba — as he is fondly referred- to preparations for an imminent farewell.

President Zuma was upbeat when he announced that Mandela’s situation had improved overnight, but admitted that he remained critical but stable. Zuma issued a statement shortly after visiting Mandela at the hospital in Pretoria, where he explained his decision to cancel his trip to Mozambique.

“I cancelled my visit to Mozambique today so that I can see him and confer with the doctors. He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night,” Zuma said.

He added: “The medical team continues to do a sterling job. We must pray for Tata’s health (Tata means father) and wish him well.”

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