Nelson Mandela is apparently not in a “permanent vegetative state,” despite claims made in court documents. South African President Jacob Zuma issued a “clarification” statement on Thursday, saying that the situation is not as bleak as the documents suggested.
The court documents in question are part of a court battle between Mandela’s oldest daughter, Makaziwe, and his oldest grandson, Mandela.
The documents were dated June 26, but were leaked to the Associated Press on Thursday. They explain that Nelson Mandela is on a breathing machine and his family has “been advised by the medical practitioners that his life support machine should be switched off” because of the “perilous state” of the 94-year-old’s health. The documents add:
“Rather than prolonging his suffering, the Mandela family is exploring this option as a very real probability.”
The court filing added “The anticipation of his impending death is based on real and substantial grounds.” But Zuma released a statement on Thursday evening about Nelson Mandela’s health, saying:
“We confirm our earlier statement released this afternoon after President Jacob Zuma visited Madiba in hospital that Madiba remains in a critical, but stable condition. The doctors deny that the former President is in a vegetative state.”
The confusion over Mandela’s status comes as the anti-apartheid icon enters his fourth week in the hospital in Pretoria, South Africa. He was admitted at the beginning of June for a reoccurring lung infection. His condition turned critical over the weekend and he is currently on a ventilator.
Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela’s wife, also spoke on Thursday about the former president’s condition, saying that he was “fine” and wasn’t in a lot of pain. She added, “Although Madiba sometimes may be uncomfortable, very few times he is in pain, but he is fine.” She added:
“Whatever is the outcome of his stay in hospital, that will remain the second time where he offered his nation an opportunity to be united under the banner of our flag, under the banner of our constitution.”
While Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition, South Africa and his fans across the world have been preparing for the possibility that the anti-apartheid icon may not make it through.