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Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela is back home – after 86 days in hospital – and his grandson Mandla immediately declared “victory” on Sunday.
He said the 95-year-old Madiba’s return was “a day of celebration for the family”.
In a veiled attack on his aunt Makaziwe, Mandla said it was ”particularly heartening because it flies in the face of those who have been busy spreading lies that he was in a ‘vegetative state’ and just waiting for his life support machines to be switched off”.
Makaziwe had gone to court in July claiming Madiba was in a vegetative state and unresponsive during a family feud between her and 15 of the grandchildren against Mandla over where the remains of Madiba’s other children should be buried – at Madiba’s Eastern Cape homestead in Qunu or at Mandla’s home in Mvezo.
Mandla’s optimism, however, was tempered by the Presidency, which cautioned that Madiba’s condition remains “critical but occasionally unstable”.
Madiba will receive the same intensive care in Houghton, Joburg, as his home has been reconfigured to provide ICU-level treatment. It is unclear, though, whether he has in fact recovered from the lung infection that necessitated his emergency admission to hospital on June 8.
“The healthcare personnel providing care at his home are the very same who provided care to him in hospital. If there are health conditions that warrant another admission to hospital in future, this will be done,” said the Presidency’s Mac Maharaj.
Mandela has had to be resuscitated several times in the past three months, and was treated by a large team of specialists and doctors drawn from the military, private and public sectors, and academia.
Maharaj insisted that Madiba’s treatment would most definitely not be compromised.
It took weeks after he was taken to hospital for media reports to emerge that Madiba had to be resuscitated on his way to the hospital, and that the military ambulance taking him to the private Pretoria Heart Hospital had broken down.
On June 23, the Presidency announced that his status had worsened from “serious” to “critical”, triggering a wave of panic among family members, political parties and other organisations.
Four days later, Makaziwe announced that his condition was “very critical”.
“Anything is imminent,” she said, as Zuma and others cancelled their plans for the weekend.
But Madiba defied the doomsayers and continued to receive treatment past his birthday on July 18.
While Madiba might have returned home, the feud between his children and grandchildren has clearly not abated.
With Madiba lying in hospital, the Mthatha High Court ordered that the remains of Madiba’s son Makgatho (Mandla’s father), his second son Thembekile and his first daughter Makaziwe be exhumed from Mvezo and re-interred in Qunu.
Last week, Mandla told The Star’s sister newspaper The Mercury that the grave battle was far from over. He intends appealing against the Mthatha High Court ruling and is awaiting a court date.
“Mandla is trying hard to reconcile (with the family), but the other side is not prepared to do the same,” said Mandla’s lawyer, advocate Matthew Mphahlwa.
Mandla, though, has not forgiven Makaziwe for publicly airing the family’s dirty laundry.
“This issue should have been resolved within the family,” Mandla said.