Johannesburg - Nelson Mandela spent a second night in
critical condition in hospital on Monday night, with his family members,
compatriots and well-wishers worldwide fearing that the anti-apartheid icon is
about to lose his final struggle.
A few vehicles were seen early on Tuesday entering and
exiting the Pretoria hospital where the former president is being treated, but
otherwise the scene was quiet except for the now normal gaggle of journalists.
On Monday, President Jacob Zuma said that "former
president Mandela remains in a critical condition in hospital."
"The doctors are doing everything possible to ensure
his well-being and comfort," Zuma added.
Mandela was rushed to hospital on 8 June with a recurring
Despite intensive treatment at Pretoria's Mediclinic Heart
Hospital, the 94-year-old's condition appears to have suddenly and dramatically
deteriorated in recent days.
Ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, daughters Zindzi
Mandela-Motlhajwa and Zenani Mandela-Dlamini and scores of officials flocked to
the hospital on Monday.
The family visits, while common since Mandela was admitted
17 days ago, come amid heightened fears for the former statesman's health.
Mandela's eldest daughter Makaziwe has said her father
appears to be at peace with himself.
"He has given so much to the world. I believe he is at
At the same time she complained about the "media
frenzy" over her father's condition.
"Whether these are the last moments with us, to be with
our dad, or there is still a longer (time), but they (media) must back off,"
she told CNN.
Zuma on Monday also hailed the life of a man seen as the
father of the nation, whose citizens must accept his frailty.
"All of us in the country should accept that Madiba is
now old," Zuma said, using Mandela's clan name.
"I think what we need to do as a country is to pray for
him to be well and that the doctors do their work."
On the world stage Mandela is seen as a moral beacon that
continues to shine long after the Nobel Peace laureate retired from public
Swiss tennis great Roger Federer, playing at Wimbledon, was
the latest to offer Mandela his best wishes, hailing him as "influential
Mandela was last seen in public in 2010 at the football
World Cup finals in South Africa.
"He is the father of democracy and this is the man who
fought and sacrificed his life," said Zuma, who spent 10 years in jail on
Robben Island at the same time as Mandela.
'Nothing we can do but to pray for him'
Mandela is due to celebrate his 95th birthday on 18 July. He
has been hospitalised four times since December, mostly for the pulmonary
condition that has plagued him for years.
As the world looked on, South Africans appeared to be coming
to terms with Mandela's decline.
"Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do but to pray
for him and the doctors that are helping him," said Phathani Mbath outside
the hospital, where flowers, cards and messages of support have piled up.
In Soweto, where Mandela lived for more than a decade, James
Nhlapo said South Africa must accept Mandela will not live forever.
"There will soon come a time when all the medical help
won't work. We have to face that sad reality now," he said as he served
customers in his grocery store.
Well wishes have also come from abroad. In Washington the
White House said its thoughts and prayers were with Mandela.
US President Barack Obama leaves on Wednesday on a
much-awaited tour of Africa that will take him to South Africa as well as
Senegal and Tanzania.
The White House said it was monitoring Mandela's condition
and could not yet say whether his failing health would affect the visit.