Mandela responding well to treatment, says SA government

Contingency plan involving 1,200 troops put on standby when former president took ill, paper reports

Daughter Zindzi Mandela at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa. Photograph: AP

Daughter Zindzi Mandela at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa. Photograph: AP

Fri, Jun 14, 2013, 01:00


Former South African president Nelson Mandela continues to respond well to treatment for a recurring lung infection, the cabinet said yesterday in a statement following its fortnightly meeting.

The nation breathed a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday after it was announced the Nobel Peace Prize winner was beginning to show signs of improvement after four nights of care in a Pretoria hospital’s intensive care unit.

“Cabinet is pleased that he is responding well to treatment and reiterates the request for the media and the public to respect the privacy of the former president and his family during this period,” read the statement.

Mr Mandela was rushed to hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning. He was described as serious but stable for several days, which sparked widespread speculation and concern about how ill he was.

International and local media have been staking out the hospital and Mr Mandela’s Johannesburg home since then. And there has been a constant stream of relatives visiting the hospital.


Military alert
Meanwhile, Afrikaans newspaper Beeld has reported that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) put a top secret contingency plan involving 1,200 troops on standby when Mr Mandela took ill.

While the details of the plan remain a closely-guarded secret, the newspaper reported that soldiers were warned to prepare themselves days before Mr Mandela was admitted to hospital.

Moreover, the regional Mthatha airport near Mr Mandela’s rural homestead in the Eastern Cape province, and airports around Pretoria, have made preparations for at least 2,000 planes landing in the country when he dies.