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Mandela tributes grow outside hospital

30 June 2013, 15:45

Pretoria - A stream of people continued to visit the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa on Sunday to lay tributes to critically ill former president Nelson Mandela.

Visitors have brought him cards, flowers, balloons, presents, teddy bears, artwork and posters.

Limpopo traditional leader Queen Sekgopo said she was in Pretoria to pray for Mandela, who was admitted to the hospital with a recurring lung infection on June 8.

"I am here to pray for Madiba, to wish him well and to pray that God will keep him safe for us," she said.

"I also pray for God to grant his family strength in this time.

"Madiba was the servant of God, a pillar of strength for all. Get well Tata [father]."

Gawie and Petra du Preez brought their 7-year-old daughter Michelle and her 6-year-old friend Minke Myburg to drop off flowers and cards at the hospital.

'Important to all of us'

Gawie Du Preez said the girls might not be old enough to fully understand the significance and importance of Mandela, but had still wanted to make cards and visit the hospital.

"One day they will realise the importance and will be able to say they added their voices," he said.

"Madiba was for the whole South Africa and is important to all of us. I am proud as I stand here, but also sad knowing we have to greet the man who offered up so much for us all."

Michelle and Minke shyly said: "We love you Madiba."

Six-year-old Jeane Lotter proudly said she had made a card for Mandela and pasted stickers on it to show her love.

"I am here because Mandela is sick. He loves everyone and children," she said.

A group of Umkhonto we Sizwe military veterans, dressed in military uniform, came to the hospital with a framed picture of Mandela in uniform.

Singing and chanting

They marched from the hospital's entrance in Park Street to the entrance on Cilliers street, singing and chanting in the street.

Members of the media, mostly international, made sound and video clips and took pictures of the group's routine.

Scores of journalists congregated near an entrance, photographing people dropping off cards and flowers, and of those being photographed in front of the wall of tributes.

Police have cordoned off Celliers Street to control traffic. Tshwane metro police cars were parked nearby.

Numerous tents, generators, broadcasting cameras on tripods and outside broadcast vans have become a permanent feature on the pavement.

In the street, vendors were selling everything from food to Mandela merchandise.

On Saturday, current South African President Jacob Zuma said Mandela remained in a critical condition.

Speaking after talks with US President Barack Obama, Zuma said Mandela's condition remained unchanged overnight, but he hoped that he would recover sufficiently to return home.

'Prayers and good wishes'

"We're hoping that it [Mandela's health] is going to improve," Zuma said at a press briefing in Pretoria on Saturday.

"I think with all the prayers and good wishes that are being made, certainly it would do something... We hope very soon he will be out of hospital."

Obama did not visit the hospital, but met privately with some of Mandela's relatives, including two daughters and several grandchildren, and had a telephonic conversation with Mandela's wife Graça Machel.



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