Former president's friends and loved ones gather at his house in South Africa, with the 95 year-old described as 'on his death-bed'
By Aislinn Laing, Joannesburg
Nelson Mandela’s family and friends were gathering at his house last night, just days after his eldest daughter said the revered former South African statesman was “on his deathbed”.
Two of Mr Mandela’s granddaughters and Bantu Holomisa, a close family friend, were among those seen entering the house in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton, along with military personnel responsible for the former president’s health.
With little explanation for the large contingent, there were rumours that the 95-year-old’s ailing health had once again taken a turn for the worse.
One family friend said he had been told Mr Mandela’s condition had “deteriorated quite a bit”, but could not give further details. “Things are quite gloomy,” he added.
Mac Maharaj, President Jacob Zuma’s spokesman, said he was seeking an update from Mr Mandela’s doctors “because of the rumours journalists are coming up with”.
The development came as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the London premiere of the Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom, in which South Africa’s first black, democratic president is played by British actor Idris Elba.
Mr Mandela’s daughter Zindzi, who also attended the screening at the Odeon in Leicester Square, told journalists her father was “fine” but “frail”.
“My father is fine. He’s 95 years old and he is pretty frail. We are hoping to see more of him,” she said.
She revealed that Mr Mandela has seen some clips of the film, which is adapted from his autobiography of the same name and stars Elba as the former South African president.
Earlier this week, Mr Mandela’s eldest daughter Makaziwe described him as fighting from his “deathbed,” but still being “very strong” and “very courageous”.
“Even when there are moments when you can see he’s struggling, but the fighting spirit is still there with him,” she told the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
Mr Mandela has been receiving round-the-clock intensive care from 22 military and other doctors since September, when he was discharged from a three-month hospital stay for a lung infection.