Nelson Mandela remains ‘quite ill,’ can’t speak, former wife says



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South Africa’s former president, Nelson Mandela, remains “quite ill”
and unable to speak because of tubes that are keeping his lungs clear of
fluid, though he is relaxed, his former wife told a
South African
newspaper.

“He remains very sensitive to any germs, so he has to be kept
literally sterile. The bedroom there (in his suburban Johannesburg home)
is like an ICU ward,” Winnie Madikizela-Mandela told the Sunday
Independent. “He is 95 years old and it is difficult for him, because of
all the tubes that are in his mouth to clear the (fluid from his)
lungs, and prevent an infection recurring.” Because of those tubes, she
said, he communicates through his face.

“But the doctors have told us they hope he will be able to recover
his voice,” she said, adding that he is being treated by 22 doctors at
his home.


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Mandela’s former wife shot down reports that the former anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace prize winner was on life support.

“I have heard this nonsense that he is on life support. He is not,”
she told the newspaper. When asked if he was peaceful, she said, “Very.
When he is very relaxed, he is fine,” adding that it helps he is at his
home, an environment that he recognizes.

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Mandela has been in intensive medical care at his Johannesburg home
since being discharged on Sept. 1 after nearly three months in a
hospital for a recurring lung infection.

Madikizela-Mandela’s comments come days before the release of the
film based on Mandela’s autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” and which
stars British actor Idris Elba. Madikizela-Mandela, 77, published a book
of her prison diaries earlier this year entitled “491 Days: Prisoner
number 1323/69.”

“Of course, I wish he could read the book, but I really wish he could see the film,” she said.
Madikizela-Mandela and Mandela divorced in 1996.

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Mandela served a single five-year term as president of South Africa
and afterward he focused on charitable causes, including the fight
against HIV/AIDS. He withdrew from public life years ago. Mandela’s last
public appearance was in 2010 at the World Cup soccer tournament, which
was hosted by South Africa. At that time, bundled against the cold, he
waved but did not speak to the stadium full of fans.


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