Speculation about the deterioration in the health of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela intensified after President Jacob Zuma cancelled his trip to Mozambique.
Zuma made his decision after visiting the 94-year-old in the Pretoria hospital where he has been receiving treatment for a lung infection.
“As he remains in a critical condition in hospital we must keep him and his family in our thoughts and prayers every minute,” President Zuma told Congress.
Students gathered at Qunu, Mandela’s ancestral home. One of them said what he would miss about the man sometimes known by his clan name ‘Madiba’: “You know I think his towering presence, you know, not just for South Africa but for the world, that is what I will miss most. So we will miss that part if he happens to leave now.”
With reports that the former president is on life support the mood seems to have switched from praying for Mandela’s recovery to preparing for a fond farewell.
“A miracle might happen that he recovers again and he is his old self. But at the same time be aware – there is a limit to what miracles you can have,” warned Phathekile Holomsa of the ANC.