Cape Town -
The chairman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Professor Jakes Gerwel, is fighting for his life at a city hospital.
Gerwel suffered a stroke at the weekend, following triple bypass heart surgery last week.
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory released a statement on Monday saying that Gerwel was in “critical condition” after his heart surgery. However, the foundation added that the reports of Gerwel’s death were “untrue”.
Earlier, Lutfia Vayej, spokeswoman for Die Burger’s Suideoosterfees, which Gerwel also chairs, said he was recovering in hospital after undergoing surgery.
“We wish him everything of the best,” said Vayej.
Netcare Kuils River Hospital, where Gerwel is recovering, also denied the reports of his death.
Gerwel is also chairman of the board of trustees of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, and was director general in the office of former president Nelson Mandela.
Earlier on Monday, reports surfaced on Twitter that he had died as a result of a stroke and tributes were being posted.
However, doubts started to surface and some media houses said they were trying to clarify, and later started posting that he had not died. Some media houses also released apologies after they had earlier reported that he had died.
Political commentator Max du Preez tweeted: “I hope Jakes Gerwel makes a complete recovery so he can witness the nice things people said when they thought he had died.”
After the initial misinformation about his death was cleared up, the tweets turned to prayers for Gerwel and his family.
According to Business Day’s website, Gerwel’s wife, Phoebe, said he was recovering well, “though he was expected to remain in the intensive-care unit for the next few days”.
Gerwel is well known in academic, political and business circles and holds several honorary doctorates from South African and international universities. He is also a published author.
He is the chancellor of Rhodes University, chairman of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation, the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and vice-chairman of the Peace Parks Foundation.
Gerwel was vice-chancellor and rector of UWC from 1987 to 1994 and served as director-general in the office of then president Mandela and cabinet secretary of the Government of National Unity from 1994 to 1999.