News / Africa

South Africa's Nobel Co-winners Mandela, de Klerk in Hospital

South Africans in Johannesburg Pray for Mandelai
X
July 02, 2013 6:56 PM
South Africans are praying over the health of former president Nelson Mandela, who remains in critical condition in a Pretoria hospital. The ruling African National Congress held a vigil outside its headquarters in downtown Johannesburg. Mandela has been in the hospital since June 8 for a lung infection; he has been in critical condition now for more than two weeks. VOA’s Anita Powell spoke to attendees who said they wished their icon well.

South Africans in Johannesburg pray for Mandela

Anita Powell
South Africans continue praying for the health of former president Nelson Mandela, who remains in critical condition in a Pretoria hospital. On Tuesday, though, another former South African president went into the hospital for heart surgery. F.W. de Klerk shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for their joint effort to bring a peaceful end to the racist apartheid system and establish democracy.

South Africa has three living Nobel Peace laureates. On Tuesday, two were in the hospital.

The foundation of former president F.W. de Klerk, who served as South Africa’s last apartheid president, announced the 77-year-old would be fitted with a pacemaker Tuesday in Cape Town.

His successor, anti-apartheid icon Mandela, has been in a Pretoria hospital since June 8. The 94-year-old has been in critical condition for more than a week.

Good wishes abound

On Tuesday, the office of current President Jacob Zuma issued a statement wishing de Klerk a swift recovery.

“We wish the former president well during this difficult time," said presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj. "Let us keep him and his family in our thoughts and prayers, says President Zuma.”

On Tuesday, members of the ruling African National Congress [ANC] held a prayer meeting for Mandela outside their headquarters in downtown Johannesburg, in a building named after South Africa’s first-ever Nobel Peace laureate, Chief Albert Luthuli.

Hundreds of well-wishers sang songs and prayed for the anti-apartheid icon.

ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe reserved his highest praise for Mandela, who he said was South Africa’s greatest leader. He said de Klerk played an important role, though, citing the historic day that he legalized the ANC, which had been banned.

“I think the apartheid regime discovered as a regime that it cannot govern on their own. And therefore, whether it was de Klerk, or [former President] P.W. [Botha], or whoever, at that moment, the moment had come for South Africa to change because apartheid was falling apart. I wish he can also recover quickly. He’s a fellow South African, he’s played his role, 7th February, 1990 made a huge difference,” said Mantashe.

Acknowledging gratitude

Prayer meeting attendee Evelyn Khumalo, 61, said Mandela changed her life in immeasurable - and tangible - ways. For example, she said, she now gets a government pension. She said both men were responsible for South Africa’s transformation.

“I’m getting a pension now. I eat their money! My children are going to school [for] free," said Khumalo. "There’s nothing to worry [about]. The problem is how to use the money that Mandela gives us. You know, de Klerk I love, because he give Madiba a chance to be a president, so that’s why we are. I feel sorry for him. He must be better. Because as of 1994, he decided to give Madiba, so the freedom is ours.”

Store worker Max Leteane, 47, said both men hold a special place in his heart.

“Mr. de Klerk, you are an icon. And I’m very sorry for you to be in hospital. It’s a sad thing for me. I’m wishing you well, come back,” he said.
 
In some ways, the two men could not be more different - one represented the old apartheid guard, the other a multiracial South Africa.

Yet in another way, the two icons could not exist without the other. De Klerk signed orders to release Mandela from his life term in prison.  Mandela, in turn, negotiated patiently with de Klerk’s National Party to bring apartheid to an end.

In 1993, when a right-wing assassin slew firebrand ANC leader Chris Hani, de Klerk asked Mandela to address the nation on television and urge calm.

At that moment, many South Africans say, it became clear who their new leader would be.

Mandela was elected the nation’s first black president in 1994, in the nation’s first all-inclusive elections. For his deputy president, he chose de Klerk.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Uwe from: Venlo
July 03, 2013 10:20 AM
Lets pray even for the wealth of Mr. de Klerk, a person - together with Mr. Mandela - did their outmost to form the new South Africa. Both are heroes, for me and many others.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid