Shaun van Heerden has been former president Nelson Mandela’s bodyguard for almost ten years. Recently, he was asked to take leave after he was suspected of giving the media information about Mandela’s hospital admission. He is accused of being the one who told people in the media exactly where the popular struggle icon is hospitalized.
On Saturday, van Heerden spoke to the media openly about the conditions of Nelson Mandela’s stay in hospital. He only had harsh words to say about the medical team in charge of treating Mandela. The head of the Mandela medical team is Army Surgeon General Veejay Ramlakan. Van Heerden has accused Ramlakan and the rest of the team of treating Mandela like a prisoner.
Van Heerden said: “Mandela is a very lonely man.” Some of his oldest friends have not been allowed to see him because of the excessive restrictions put in place by the medical experts treating him. According to the bodyguard, these restrictions were enforced even before Nelson Mandela’s latest hospital admission.
The bodyguard alleges that the medical team of one of the most famous men in the world is “star-struck”. Van Heerden complained that he had seen incidents where medical staff members posed for pictures with Mandela as he lay ill. Sometimes they “shoved copies of his book, The Long Walk to Freedom, into his hands for him to sign.” Van Heerden was repulsed by this.
On Saturday, Nelson Mandela spent his seventh day in hospital without incident. Security at the hospital where he is being treated for a lung condition has been intensified. Thorough searches are conducted on all vehicles and pedestrians entering the premises.
Spokesperson for the presidency, Mac Maharaj, explained last week that the restrictions that the doctors have put in place are there to ensure the best environment for Mandela’s recovery. He was responding to a media report claiming that the ANC had been asked not to visit Nelson Mandela while he is being treated in hospital.