Feud­ing fam­ily ‘ex­ag­ger­ated’ state of Madiba’s health

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - KASHIEFA AJAM, HEN­RI­ETTE GELDEN­HUYS, SAPA and AFP

NEL­SON Man­dela’s doc­tors have re­jected the idea of turn­ing off his life sup­port, un­less he suf­fers mas­sive or­gan fail­ure, a close fam­ily friend has said.

“I was told the mat­ter had been raised and the doc­tors said they would only con­sider such a sit­u­a­tion if there was a gen­uine state of or­gan fail­ure,” said Denis Gold­berg, 80, a long-time friend of Man­dela and a fel­low Rivonia tri­al­ist.

And it has emerged that mem­bers of the Man­dela fam­ily who went to court to se­cure the ex­huma­tion and re­burial of the re­mains of three of Nel­son Man­dela’s chil­dren had ex­ag­ger­ated the sever­ity of his health in court pa­pers, al­leg­ing he was in a “per­ma­nent veg­e­ta­tive state”.

“Ob­vi­ously Man­dela is in a crit­i­cal state, but his con­di­tion was def­i­nitely ex­ag­ger­ated,” a highly-placed source re­vealed last night.

The lat­est shock rev­e­la­tion, ap­par­ently seen as a way to speed up court pro­ceed­ings against em­bat­tled Man­dela grand­son Mandla, who is said to have moved the bod­ies in ques­tion in the mid­dle of the night in 2011, comes amid ris­ing anger and con­cern over the schism in the Man­dela fam­ily.

The ad­mis­sion that Man­dela’s pre­car­i­ous health was ex­ag­ger­ated for pur­poses of the court ac­tion comes as the Pres­i­dency urged the Man­dela fam­ily to re­solve their in­creas­ingly bit­ter dis­pute “am­i­ca­bly”.

“It is re­gret­table that there is a dis­pute go­ing on among fam­ily mem­bers and we’d like that dis­pute to be re­solved as am­i­ca­bly and as soon as pos­si­ble,” said Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s spokesman Mac Ma­haraj.

Ma­haraj re­fused to comment on the court doc­u­ment which said Man­dela was judged to be in a “per­ma­nent veg­e­ta­tive state”, and that his doc­tors had rec­om­mended switch­ing off his life-sup­port ma­chines.

“We did not file any doc­u­ment and we are not say­ing that it’s true or not true,” he said. Ma­haraj would say only that Madiba re­mained in a “crit­i­cal but sta­ble” con­di­tion.

Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion in the court pa­pers was that doc­tors had ad­vised the fam­ily to turn off Man­dela’s life sup­port, but Gold­berg said the for­mer states­man was still “at­ten­tive” and had tried to speak to him when he vis­ited Madiba in hos­pi­tal ear­lier this week.

Gold­berg said yes­ter­day Man­dela was “to­tally con­scious” when he saw him on Mon­day.

“I was in­vited by... (Man­dela’s wife) Graça Machel to visit him in hos­pi­tal in or­der to pro­vide the stim­u­la­tion of hear­ing the voice of a per­son he knows. He was in­ca­pac­i­tated but was to­tally con­scious.”

Gold­berg con­firmed that Man­dela was re­ceiv­ing help to breathe.

“But he re­sponds to voices and tries to talk, yet mum­bles. He was doz­ing when I got there. I spoke and told him who I was and he opened his eyes and looked at me. I spoke to him for about 10 min­utes and he re­sponded pos­i­tively to what I was say­ing,” said Gold­berg.

“He did not an­swer be­cause he can’t talk, with the pipe in his throat, but he was mov­ing his jaw as if he wanted to talk. I was absolutely amazed – af­ter the sto­ries I had heard.”

JULY 6 2013

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