Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition

An image of former South African President Nelson Mandela on the wall of the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria is covered with goodwill messages.
(Christopher Furlong / Getty Images)

PRETORIA, South Africa -- Nelson Mandela remains in a critical condition in a hospital in Pretoria, but one of his grandsons said Tuesday that the former president of South Africa was responsive and “very much alive.”

Ndaba Mandela urged people to celebrate his grandfather’s life as the elder statesman approaches his 95th birthday on July 18.

“It’s time to celebrate his life,” he said. “The old man is very much alive.”


He said his grandfather was aware when friends and family were there.

“When I speak to him, he responds. Let us not be in a spirit of sadness but a spirit of celebration because the old man is still with us today,” he told journalists outside the hospital where Mandela is being treated.

It was the most recent confirmation that the former leader is conscious and responsive, after court documents from the Mandela family a week ago said death was “impending.”

Old friends -- including Denis Goldberg, who was tried alongside Mandela for political sabotage in 1964 -- have told reporters in recent days that the ex-president wasn’t able to speak because of a tube inserted in his throat but was responsive and recognized visitors.

Goldberg said Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, told him that doctors have told the family that there was no general organ failure and that there was hope that Mandela could recover.

Ndaba Mandela is the son of Makgatho Mandela, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 2005. The grandson is bitterly opposed to his half-brother, Mandla Mandela, who was selected by Nelson Mandela to be family leader and clan chief.

South Africa’s presidency released a statement Tuesday on Mandela’s condition, noting that it remained critical but stable.

South Africans normally mark Nelson Mandela’s birth by giving at least 67 minutes of their time for community service, a minute for each year that Mandela served his people.


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