Journos on the hunt for Madiba’s hospital

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madiba dec 10_2

AP

Nelson Mandela. File photo by AP.

Pretoria - Journalists have camped outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital, in Arcadia, Pretoria, in their attempts to find out where former president Nelson Mandela is being treated.

Among them was the Eyewitness News (EWN) team which was reporting that: “The name of the hospital is known by Eyewitness News, but this is not being released to respect Madiba's dignity.”

EWN reported on Thursday that Mandela, 94, was not receiving treatment at 1 Military Hospital.

The presidency said it had not been the government's intention to mislead the public or the media.

Spokesman Mac Maharaj said he had only said Mandela had been admitted to a Pretoria hospital.

“It is not part of any strategy or tactic by government to mislead the public. We have never had that intention. We know to keep to the facts and we've been rigorous,” he said in an interview on Talk Radio 702

However, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula gave an apparent confirmation that he was at 1 Military Hospital in an interview outside the hospital on Monday, after seemingly visiting Mandela there.

At the time, she said: “He's doing very, very well and it is important to keep him in our prayers and also to be as calm as possible and not cause a state of panic because I think that is not what all of us need.”

On Friday, reporters from EWN, the eNews Channel and The Associated Press had stationed their cars along Celliers street, overlooking the entrance to the Mediclinic.

Beeld was reporting that Mandela had been admitted under a pseudonym, which was known to the newspaper.

It reported that security at the hospital was tight and that a number of black bakkies and cars, identical to those used by the police's VIP unit, could be seen on its grounds.

What appeared to be an emergency medical vehicle, with military number plates, was parked in the hospital manager's parking bay.

A number of men wearing electronic earpieces, and who were thought to be members of the VIP protection unit, had been seen moving around the hospital grounds and inside the building.

According to Beeld, Mapisa-Nqakula and senior SA National Defence Force officers had visited the hospital.

The newspaper reported that Surgeon General Lieutenant-General Veejay Ramlakan was there on Tuesday and Wednesday, and that Mandela's wife Graca Machel President Jacob Zuma and former President Thabo Mbeki had visited the hospital.

The MediClinic Heart Hospital is next to the Maupa Naga police station.

According to its website, the hospital takes pride in being “the first and still the only hospital of its kind - a private, specialised heart hospital in South Africa”.

A large contingent of local and international journalists had camped outside the 1 Military hospital since learning of Mandela's admittance to a hospital on Saturday.

Mandela had been flown to Pretoria from his home in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.

The presidency said he was suffering from the recurrence of a previous lung infection and was responding to treatment.

Mandela's hospital stay is his longest continuous period in hospital since 2001, when he underwent seven weeks of radiotherapy after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was 83 at the time.

In January 2011, Mandela was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital for what turned out to be an acute respiratory infection. He had contracted tuberculosis while in prison.

Mandela was a leader of the Struggle against racist white rule in South Africa, and preached reconciliation when he emerged from prison in 1990, after 27 years behind bars.

He served one five-year term as president. - Sapa


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