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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid