Maki Mandela Photo: Andy Wong

Cape Town - Nelson Mandela was kept alive for too long and his passing was a “relief”, one of his daughters has admitted.

This comes just days after the same sentiments were expressed by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Maki Mandela, in an exclusive interview with CNN from her home in Joburg, broadcast on Thursday, said: “Having seen my father suffer the way he suffered - he was sick for a long time - it was a relief for me to see that we buried my father in a dignified manner.

“When he breathed that last breath in Houghton it was a welcome relief to me - I couldn’t take it anymore,” she told journalist Robyn Curnow.

“I was telling these doctors, I think enough is enough. As a daughter it was just excruciating watching that. I said: ‘Guys, when do we accept that we have reached the end and we cannot do any more? We cannot play God,’” Mandela told Curnow.

Asked whether he had been kept alive for too long, she replied: “For me the quality of life was no longer there. Now he was bedridden. I did not understand in my layman’s mind why we had to prolong life.”

CNN reported that the former president had been “on dialysis for kidney failure and a ventilator to help him breathe” and “was fed intravenously through tubes into his stomach, and his arms and hands grew swollen due to the intravenous antibiotics and other medications he was receiving”.

His daughter stressed, however, that “my dad’s death was a beautiful passing on”.

Her comments come just days after Tutu slammed the way Mandela had been treated in his final months.

“What was done to Madiba was disgraceful. There was that occasion when Madiba was televised with political leaders, President Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. You could see Madiba was not fully there. He did not speak. He was not connecting. My friend was no longer himself. It was an affront to Madiba’s dignity.”

His comments came as part of statements strongly in support of assisted dying for the terminally ill.

Writing in Britain’s Observer newspaper, Tutu said he had been convinced by the case of Craig Schonegevel, a 28-year-old South African who had neurofibromatosis and took 12 sleeping pills and pulled plastic bags over his head because doctors were unable to end his life.

“Some people opine that with good palliative care there is no need for assisted dying, no need for people to request to be legally given a lethal dose of medication,” the Nobel Peace laureate wrote. “That was not the case for Craig Schonegevel. Others assert their right to autonomy and consciousness - why exit in the fog of sedation when there’s the alternative of being alert and truly present with loved ones?”

Tutu’s comments were published on Saturday, a day after the former leader of the Church of England, George Carey, expressed support for a bill to legalise assisted dying in Britain. South Africa’s legal system denied Schonegevel the right to die with dignity, Tutu said.

“We need to revisit our own South African laws, which are not aligned to a constitution that espouses the human right to dignity.”

Cape Argus

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