Family gathers at hospital to which Mandela admitted 'for tests'
Panic set in across South Africa last night as the news spread that former president Nelson Mandela had been admitted to a Johannesburg hospital.
This was in spite of assurances from the Nelson Mandela Foundation that he had been admitted merely for routine tests.
"He is in no danger and is in good spirits," foundation spokesman Sello Hatang said at about 4pm.
Mandela was whisked into a private entrance at Johannesburg's Milpark Hospital at about 3pm in a military ambulance escorted by his VIP protection unit.
Unlike on previous visits to the private hospital, when he left on the same day, the 92-year-old statesman was still in hospital late last night.
He was said to have been admitted for overnight observation.
Both the Milpark Hospital and the Nelson Mandela Foundation refused to release details of the nature or extent of Mandela's medical tests.
But he was believed to have been admitted to the hospital's trauma unit.
According to a senior nurse, the entire casualty area was cleared to accommodate Mandela, and to ensure his privacy and that of his family.
Family members arrived one by one - some on their own, others escorted by their bodyguards.
They all entered the hospital through a cordoned-off entrance that was guarded by hospital security guards and police.
Among the family members whisked in were Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, and her daughter, Josina. Mandela's daughter Zindzi arrived shortly after her father was admitted.
His grandson, Zondwa, managing director of embattled mining group Aurora Empowerment Systems, was there, as were his other grandchildren, Ndileka and Ndaba.
Mandela's long-time aide, Zelda la Grange, left the hospital late in the afternoon and returned just over two hours later.
She would not speak to journalists inquiring about the former president's health.
Hospital staff were last night seen carrying trays of tea, coffee and cold drinks to the area in which the family had gathered. Many had their hands full trying to keep the growing contingent of journalists at bay.
Most hospital patients and their visitors were unaware that Mandela had been admitted to the hospital until they saw the 7pm TV news.
A woman, visiting her son, said as she watched: "Oh my God, I wish that You save him."
The hospital's head of security, who refused to identify himself, said he would ask Johannesburg metro police to assist with crowd control.
Late last night, Gauteng police commissioner General Mzwandile Petros was called in to assess the security arrangements.
Local and international journalists were camped on the bridge overlooking the hospital and the metro police ordered them to leave the area.
The hospital began to strengthen its security an hour after Mandela's arrival.
Government and ANC officials are said to have been continually updating President Jacob Zuma, who is in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, on Mandela's condition.
The possibility of Zuma's early return to South Africa is believed to have been discussed.
However, last night the presidency said Zuma would remain in Davos and proceed to Ethiopia at the weekend for an African Union summit.
The "routine tests" came a day after retired archbishop Desmond Tutu said that Mandela was ''frail''.
"I saw him last week," Tutu said in Cape Town on Tuesday.
"He was all right; I mean he's 92, man, you know . and he's frail."
Two weeks ago, a report on social networking site Twitter claimed that Mandela had died.
The ANC condemned the report as a malicious and insensitive hoax.
Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport said that, though the rumours of Mandela's death were false, reliable sources had confirmed that his health had deteriorated.
Earlier this month, a foundation spokesman said Mandela was well and on holiday with his wife.
|We wish the old man a quick and speedy recovery here from Zululand
Original story http://www.timeslive.co.za/Madiba-panic