Nelson Mandela’s oldest daughter has slammed the ‘‘crass’’ media frenzy around her critically ill father, likening the press to vultures.
Makaziwe Mandela accused the foreign media of ‘‘a racist element’’ by crossing cultural boundaries and being a ‘‘nuisance’’ at her father’s Pretoria hospital where he is on life support.
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Mandela's daughter calls the media 'vultures'
RAW VISION: Makaziwe Mendela expresses hope for her father, but accuses the media of overstepping the mark.
'‘It’s like truly vultures waiting when a lion has devoured a buffalo, waiting there you know for the last carcasses, that’s the image that we have as a family,’’ Makaziwe Mandela told the state broadcaster SABC. ‘‘And we don’t mind the interest but I just think that it has gone overboard.’’
As well as staking out the hospital, journalists had also camped out during the family’s visit this week to Mandela’s childhood village, in the rural Eastern Cape.
‘‘They violate all boundaries,’’ she said. ‘‘Is it because we’re an African country that people just feel they can’t respect any laws of this country, they can violate everything in the book? I just think it’s in bad taste, it’s crass."
Updates on Mandela’s health are strictly controlled via the South African presidency but this has not stopped hordes of foreign and local media flocking to his hospital, village of Qunu and his Johannesburg home.
Mandela said her father’s status as a global icon did not mean that his privacy and dignity should not be respected.
‘‘Tata (father) deserves his privacy and dignity and this family deserves that,’’ she said. ‘‘And if people say they really care about Nelson Mandela, then they should respect that, then they should respect that there’s a part of him that has to be respected.
‘‘It doesn’t mean that everything of his has to be out there in the public. I don’t think so, I don’t agree with that.’’
South African President Jacob Zuma cancelled a trip to neighbouring Mozambique after visiting Mandela, 94, in hospital in Pretoria, on Wednesday, and returning for another visit on Thursday. Mandela was admitted to the intensive-care unit on June 8 to receive treatment for a recurring lung infection.
''President Zuma was briefed by the doctors who are still doing everything they can to ensure his wellbeing,'' the Presidency said in an emailed statement on Thursday. Mandela is ''still in a critical condition,'' it said.
Hundreds of South Africans, many of them children, have been flocking to the hospital, leaving cards, balloons, flowers and messages of support for the former president.
''Our thoughts and prayers right now are with the people of South Africa,'' US President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to arrive in the southern African nation late on Friday for an official visit, told reporters in Dakar, Senegal. Mandela is ''a hero for the world. His legacy is one that will linger on throughout the ages''.
Mandela continues to open his eyes and respond to touch, his daughter Makaziwe told the state-owned SAfm radio station on Thursday.
''I can reiterate that Tata is very critical,'' she said, using the Xhosa word for father. ''Anything is imminent. It's only God who knows when the time to goes is.''
Zuma, was scheduled to attend an infrastructure conference hosted by the Southern African Development Community in Mozambique's capital, Maputo. He decided to cancel his trip after visiting Mandela on Wednesday night and speaking to his doctors, Zuma's spokesman, Mac Maharaj, told SAfm. Mandela's condition had deteriorated in the past 48 hours, he said.
Mandela, who turns 95 next month, became the president of the continent's largest economy after his African National Congress won all-race elections in 1994.
He spent 27 years in jail for opposing white-minority rule and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Doctors downgraded Mandela's condition to critical on June 23. He is on life support machines to help him breathe, the London-based Daily Telegraph reported, citing Napilisi Mandela, a member of Mandela's clan.
Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who prayed with Mandela's family at the hospital yesterday, said South Africans may be ''afraid to let him go because he has been such an icon and a wonderful human being,'' he told the Johannesburg-based Times newspaper.
A tide of emotional tributes has built on social media and in handwritten messages and flowers laid outside the hospital and Mr Mandela's home. On Wednesday, about 20 children from a daycare centre posted a handmade card outside the hospital and recited a poem.
''Hold on, old man,'' was one of the lines in the Zulu poem.