GAUTENG, SOUTH AFRICA – Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who has been critically ill in a hospital for a little over two months, is becoming more alert and responsive by the day, his youngest daughter said Friday, adding that the anti-apartheid icon is “not going anywhere anytime soon.”
“Tata (Father) now manages to sit up, like now, he is able to sit up in a chair for a few minutes in a day. Everyday, you know, he becomes more alert, more responsive, and so on,” Zindzi Mandela told South African public television SABC. “People must stop saying to the family, ‘Let go, let go.’ We are just looking at this man who is saying ‘I’m not going anywhere,’ ” she said as she left the Pretoria hospital where Mandela, 95, is being treated.
The former president was rushed to the Mediclinic Heart Hospital on June 8 with a recurring lung infection. His condition is still said to be “critical but stable.”
The last two months have seen a series of scares for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and for his country, which considers him a living saint. On June 23, the presidency said his condition had become critical, and President Jacob Zuma hastily canceled a foreign trip.
Leaked court documents filed by Mandela’s relatives June 28 had said that he was “assisted in breathing by a life support machine.”
But since then, friends and family members reported that his health has been improving. His former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, told Sky News in an interview broadcast Thursday that he was now breathing normally. “You know, he just doesn’t have the strength of a man — he just has a strength that is beyond anything that can be explained,” she said.