Friday, April 18, 2014
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South African President Jacob Zuma addresses journalists in Johannesburg Monday. Zuma said that Nelson Mandela's condition in a Pretoria hospital remained critical for a second straight day and described the stricken anti-apartheid hero as being "asleep" when he visited Mandela the previous evening.
"Nobody can predict whether the car is going to break down or not," he said. But he said he was pleased because seven doctors, including specialists, in the convoy "made all the contingencies before leaving" and Mandela's health was therefore not affected.
Asked why none of Mandela's doctors had been made available for a news briefing, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said an arrangement had been made in consultation with Mandela's family whereby information would be provided through a "single source in an authoritative way."
"We've come to that arrangement on the basis that we need to respect the privacy of the family, we need to adhere to doctor-patient confidentiality," he said.
"You can be assured that what we are saying is based on agreement with the doctors," Maharaj said. Doctors approve the text of announcements on Mandela's health, and believe some media reporting has transgressed professional ethics, he said.
Family members continued with visits to Mandela on Monday. They included his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Monday marked the 18th anniversary of Mandela's appearance at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg, a day still enshrined as a hugely significant moment for South Africa.
In a move crucial in unifying sections of a previously fractured society, Mandela wore a green and gold Springboks rugby jersey at the June 24 final in Johannesburg and brought all South Africans together in support of their national team — once an all-white bastion of the apartheid regime and hated by blacks.
Mandela shook hands with and patted the shoulder of the Springboks' captain, Francois Pienaar, after South Africa won a tense final against New Zealand, underlining the new president's dedication to reconciliation.