The rumor mill is in full effect with unverified reports about former South African President Nelson Mandela’s health. Social networks have been flooded with links to stories about conspiracy theories regarding what is going on behind the walls and closed doors of the Pretoria Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital. Though these rumors have spurned a lot of uncertainty, South Africans continue to pray for Nelson Mandela.
Some South Africans are ready to let the ‘Father of the Nation’ go and say that he deserves to rest after a long and tiresome life. Many others still pray for his speedy recovery. Either way, the rumors may have something to do with larger crowds around the hospital where Nelson Mandela was admitted twenty days ago and other places of historical relevance.
The stories are particularly disturbing because they imply that Nelson Mandela has been declared brain dead. The exact date and time that Mandela was declared brain dead differs with each rumor. One story claims that this happened on Wednesday night and another says it was Saturday 22 June 2013. Some even say that he has already been removed from life support systems while others claim that the machines will be switched off this weekend during US President Obama’s visit.
The presidency is extremely “disturbed” by these stories. It has asked the public to only rely on the updates provided by the presidency and not any other source when it comes to news about Mandela’s health. Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said: “There is no truth in these reports. Former president Nelson Mandela remains in a critical condition”
Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe lashed out at the media: “It’s truly like vultures waiting when the lion has devoured the buffalo, waiting there for the last of the carcass. That’s the image we have as a family.”
The family is grateful for the messages of love, support and comfort that they have received from the people outside the hospital, all over the country and across the world. However, they are bothered by the excessive media coverage about Mandela’s hospital admission. Makaziwe Mandela added that not every aspect of her father’s life “needs to be made public” just because he is an international icon.