South Africans Panic as DSTV Suggests Mandela is Dead

By Smanga Kumalo    04-Apr-2013 09:28 UTC+02:00 14

nelson mandelaThere was a mix of emotions when DStv-pay-TV made a “mistake” on their channel on Tuesday night, causing momentary panic by broadcasting a documentary whose title implied that Dr Nelson Mandela had died. Their documentary obituary titled “Remembering Madiba 1918-2013” was advertised on (DStv) Universal Channel 117.

The obituary featured images of Madiba and other relevant photos. The media reports say it featured facts about Mandela’s life. It is believed the mini obituary aired at least twice. This follows shortly after Mandela has been in hospital since before the Easter Weekend and is receiving treatment for pneumonia.

The presidency spokesman, Mac Maharaj asked Multichoice to remove the ad. He said the mistake was “unfortunate” and “insensitive to the Mandela family and to the nation”.

Mandela was admitted to a Pretoria hospital on Wednesday midnight. It was his third trip to a hospital since December last year, when he was treated for a lung infection and also had a procedure to remove gallstones.

Earlier in March, he spent a night in a hospital for what officials said was a scheduled medical test. The TV station has since released an apology. ANC Women’s League spokeswoman, Troy Martens, expressed disgust at the promo advert. Martens was still unsure whether it had been a mistake Universal Channel on MultiChoice’s DStv erroneously broadcast an “obituary” of Remembering Madiba – who is very much alive.

“It was highly irresponsible and disrespectful to the Mandela family,” she explained. Maharaj said Mandela has been responding well to treatment. “We have to assume things are continuing as normal. Our thoughts remain with him and his family,” he concluded.

On Saturday the presidency office said Mandela was breathing without difficulty after having a procedure to clear fluid in his lung area. “Universal Networks wishes to offer a sincere and heartfelt apology for the airing of such an announcement for Nelson Mandela which was broadcast last night on the Universal Channel due to a technical error by our team. “We unreservedly apologise to the Mandela family, to Universal Channel viewers and to DStv subscribers for the alarm and offense caused by this error. Our thoughts and best wishes are with Madiba and his family for a speedy and full recovery,” said Universal Networks International.

Multichoice spokeswoman, Marietjie Groenewald shifted the blame on Universal by saying the mistake was the fault of the broadcaster and not of DStv.

Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after elections were held, bringing an end to the system of white racist rule known as apartheid. After his release from prison in 1990, Mandela was widely credited with averting even greater bloodshed by helping the country in the transition to democratic rule.

At the time of this writing, Mandela was still in hospital. The presidency released a statement saying he was responding positively to treatment and his condition was much better.


  1. Amy says:

    He has been in hospital for a week now. He might be seriously ill, if not already dead. I don’t know why but I don’t trust Mac Maharaj and Zuma’s statements. It’s like they are always hiding something.

  2. Ochieng Jared says:

    Kenyans join South Africans in prayers for the quick recovery of this great man who serverd as South Africas first black president. We also pray to the medical personel taking care of this states man Madiba.

  3. Eunice says:

    We are praying for Utata wethu we realy love Him sifuna aphile.

  4. dibomavi says:

    may da hiro(mandela) live many more yrz,we luv him,he iz da king of africa.we luv him.

  5. Tata u r our hero,our father,may God give u many many years to witness what u struggled for successful.without u there's South Africa.may u regain ur strength and health.We love u Tata! says:

  6. Martina Smith says:

    Tata r u our hero n our father.May the Almighty restore ur health n strength coz without u there’s no South Africa.u have to live to witness what u fought for.we love u Tata Madiba.!

  7. Black says:


  8. wish u lng lyf tata u hv dne a grt job wrld wde says:

  9. Candy Roger says:

    Yep, I agree, the article is well written, we pray for our former South African president and world icon for a speedy recovery. I believe DSTV did this deliberately cause they wanted to broke the story, fortunately God is great Mandela is still alive and kicking. If is was in Zimbabwe, the DSTV station was going to be shutdown. Good article by your journalist Smanga Kumalo. I would keep reading your article day in and day out. Don’t forget to pray for Mandela, Love and Peace, love you yall.

  10. Martina Smith says:

    long live Tata Madiba,long live comrade.u r in our hearts always.we love Tata.if someone report u dead whilst still alive is giving u many years to live.

  11. says:

    Mandela’s life is not carried by any one BUT by GOD. Well written, the credit must go to Journalist, editor. Nice balance piece. I’m disappointed by this Universal and DStv, that’s not a mistake but they deliberately broadcast that mini obituary, sies. ThePublicNews crew please keep up the good work.

  12. Dee says:

    The fact that they have an obituary prepared is rather disturbing. Is being the first to report a story so important that they prepare an obituary in advance? Disgraceful!!

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