South Africa is in an uneasy state with news that former President Nelson Mandela is admitted to a Johannesburg hospital- Milpark Hospital.
Official communication from his foundation –the Nelson Mandela Foundation said the former president is in Milpark Hospital for “routine tests” and that his health was not in jeopardy.
However, that alone has put South Africa on edge with nearly all news broadcasts leading with the story.
African National Congress in a statement on Thursday said, “We call on all South Africans to remain calm regarding the hospitalization of Madiba and not press any panic buttons, as there is no reason for that whatsoever”.
His wife, Graca Machel, and other family members including his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela were seen at the hospital on Thursday morning.
Local and foreign media have converged on the hospital ready to send out any information on one of the world’s most loved and admired people.
Whilst security has been beefed up at the hospital where he is admitted with police checking all visitors’ cars, ANC has also pleaded with the media not to speculate about Mandela’s condition.
“We appeal, particularly to the media fraternity to refrain from making unfounded and unwarranted speculation in relation to Madiba’s health (…) In the same vein we also request the media, in particular, to give Madiba’s family and the hospital the necessary privacy.”
Reports say a school next to the hospital; children have decorated a fence with messages of support and colourful pictures of hands and hearts. “We hope you’ll get well soon,” one message reads while another reads “Madiba, we love you”.
A South African publication The Star reported that a Facebook post by Mandela’s granddaughter, Zoleka Mandela, read: “I really hate to see you this way. It kills me each time. Know that i’m here for you as I believe you have always been there for me…”
Mandela’s long time friend former archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu Desmond Tutu has been quoted as saying Mandela is “frail and South Africa is acting like the very thought of Nelson Mandela dying is going to cause the country to go up in flames”.
Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his role in the fight against Apartheid in South Africa, emerging in 1990 to lead the country’s transition to democracy.