domingo, 8 de dezembro de 2013

His final moments

His final moments

Nelson Mandela
Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela.
Image by: Greg Bartley

Nelson Mandela spent his last moments surrounded by close family members, including his wife, Graça Machel, former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, daughter Makaziwe and grandson Mandla.

By the time he died on Thursday evening, he was not on a life-support machine and had been breathing on his own.
Mandla, his heir, had been urgently summoned from Mvezo in the Eastern Cape to his grandfather's bedside early on Thursday morning.
One of the last people to see Mandela alive was United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa. Speaking to the Sunday Times, Holomisa, who was very close to Mandela for many years, said he arrived at the Houghton, Johannesburg, home on Thursday at about 5.30pm after he received a call that the former statesman "was not well".
"I went straight to see him in his room. I was sad to see that his situation, from the last time I saw him, had deteriorated very badly," Holomisa said.
He spent more than an hour with Madiba and left the house just after 7pm.
"Little did I know it would be the last time I would see him alive."
Madiba died at 8.50pm.
Mandela's two youngest daughters, Zindzi and Zenani, were in London at the royal premiere of Long Walk to Freedom when they received the news of their father's death. They immediately left the cinema.
After President Jacob Zuma was informed of Mandela's death - as required by protocol - close family friends gathered at the house.
As Mandela's body left his home - in a casket draped in the South African flag - Mandla continued to sing his praises with the words "Aah Dalibunga" and was joined by family members and the political leadership who were present.
They included businessman Patrice Motsepe, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.
Mandela's grandchildren Zondwa Mandela and his sister Zoleka were in France, and Ndaba Mandela was travelling home from Brazil.
National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu was also at the Houghton house, as well as Dali Tambo, son of late ANC leader Oliver Tambo.
The family was comforted by the ANC's chaplain-general the Rev Vukile Mehana, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church and the Rev Frank Chikane, who led them in prayer as news of Mandela's death began to spread.
The former president's body was still lying in his room on the upper floor of the house.
Zuma arrived soon after making his emotional announcement of Mandela's death on television.
Other ANC leaders present included secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, who is also Mandela's former personal assistant, and treasurer Zweli Mkhize.
At about midnight, the military arrived with a casket to collect Mandela's body so it could be taken to 1Military Hospital in Pretoria.
Director-general in the Presidency Dr Cassius Lubisi oversaw the hand-over, alongside the head of Mandela's medical team, Dr Zola Dabula, and former South African National Defence Force surgeon-general Vejay Ramlakhan.
"The family was very strong, but the mood was sombre. The toughest moment came when the military arrived to collect Madiba's body around midnight. When they came down from his room upstairs with his lifeless body, followed by Mandla, it started to sink in that Madiba was gone. We all stood up to observe the moment and joined in when Mandla sang his praises ... Aah Dalibunga," said someone who was present.
The former president has, over the past few years, become increasingly frail and was hospitalised numerous times. His last stay in hospital lasted 86 days after he was admitted to a Pretoria hospital on June 8.
Mandela's funeral on Sunday is expected to be one of the biggest global gatherings in history as world leaders prepare to converge in unprecedented numbers on South Africa.
US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, will travel to South Africa with former first couple George W and Laura Bush.
The Bushes will be making the trip with the Obamas on Air Force One at the first couple's request.
Former president Bill Clinton, who was in office when Mandela came to power, also said that he would be making the trip to attend the funeral, with his family.
"I wouldn't miss this," said Clinton. "He was a genuine friend to me, and he was a really fine partner as president. So my whole family will be there and we're looking forward to having the chance to say goodbye one last time."
Other heads of state who will attend include French President François Hollande, Chad President Idriss Déby, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and representatives from China, Iran, Cuba, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The British delegation is expected to include senior royals, presumably Prince Charles and possibly Prince William, as well as Prime Minister David Cameron.
The prince and princess of Monaco announced on the palace's official website that they would attend Mandela's funeral.
Prince Albert and Princess Charlene said Mandela was "an example, a symbol of reconciliation, a great man who, through his courage, selflessness and generosity, was able to change the course of history and make his life a fight for justice and respect for human dignity".
There will be a memorial service for Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday.
His body will lie in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria from Wednesday to Friday. It will be transported to the Union Buildings each day from the mortuary at 1Military Hospital. Government communications chief director Neo Momodu said the public would be allowed to line the route as the motorcade carrying Madiba's coffin parade through the capital's streets.
Access to Mandela's lying in state will be strictly controlled and no photographs or video recordings will be allowed.
Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said yesterday that it was not certain "at the moment" whether Mandela's casket would be open or closed.
Chabane said all venues - the Mandela house, FNB Stadium and the Union Buildings - would be cordoned off and that access would be controlled.
On Saturday, Mandela's remains will arrive in Qunu, where he grew up and where he will be buried alongside his children Makgatho, Thembekile and Makaziwe on Sunday.
Security was tightened outside Mandela's home in Qunu yesterday with a heavy military presence.
Police on horseback were also patrolling the streets in the village.
Today, Zuma will attend a service at the Bryanston Methodist Church in Johannesburg to mark the national day of prayer and reflection called to remember Mandela.
Zuma reiterated the call to all South Africans to go to stadiums, halls, churches, temples or synagogues today to celebrate the life of Madiba.
"As South Africans, we sing when we are happy and we also sing when we are sad to make ourselves feel better. Let us celebrate Madiba in this way, which we know best. Let us sing for Madiba," said Zuma.

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