Monday, June 24, 2013

Mandela - The Legend and the Legacy

It is often said that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, however, this usually means that the other man has been less than fastidious in his choice of hero, or that the “freedom fighter” in question was on the crowd pleasing side.

On the 27th of June, London's Hyde Park played host to a concert in honour of Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday and as expected it received wall to wall coverage from a star struck and worshipping media, who continue to laud Mandela as one of the greatest, or indeed the greatest, heroes of our time.
The beaming old man appeared on stage in one of his trademark multi-coloured shirts and cheerily acknowledge the cheers of the adoring crowd, most of whom have been taught to believe in his sainthood since their first days in primary school, which, for many of them, will have occurred around the same time their hero walked free from Robben Island.

The unquestioning belief in Mandela's universally admired saintliness was again on display in the gushing media coverage and by the unending line of politicians and dignitaries from presidents to Prime ministers who queued up to genuflect before him and sing his praises. It is a brave politician or journalist who would dare to question the godliness of this legend and consummate showman, and hence no such questions were raised, nor were his much vaunted “achievements” subjected to any objective scrutiny.

No matter how many speeches are given or how many news articles are written, it will be a long time if ever before the truth about Mandela is told.

In fact the truth about Mandela is so hidden in mythology and misinformation that most know nothing about him prior to Robben island, and those who do tend to exercise a form of self censorship, designed to bolster the myth whilst consigning uncomfortable facts into the mists of history.

For most people all they know about Mandela, prior to his release in 1990, was that he had spent 27 years in prison and was considered by many on the left at the time (and almost everyone now) to be a political prisoner. However, Mandela was no Aung San Suu Kyi, he was not an innocent, democratically elected leader, imprisoned by an authoritarian government.

Mandela was the terrorist leader of a violent terrorist organisation, the ANC (African National Congress) which was responsible for many thousands of, mostly black, deaths. The ANC's blood spattered history is frequently ignored, but reminders occasionally pop up in the most embarrassing places, indeed as recently as this month the names of Nelson Mandela and most of the ANC remained on the US government's terrorist watch list along with al-Queda, Hezbollah and the Tamil Tigers. Of course the forces of political correctness are rushing to amend that embarrassing reminder from the past. However, Mandela's name was not on that list by mistake, he was there because of his Murderous past.

Before I am accused of calumny, it should be noted that Mandela does not seek to hide his past, in his autobiography “the long walk to Freedom” he casually admits “signing off” the 1983 Church Street bombing carried out by the ANC and killing 19 innocent people whilst injuring another 200.

It is true that Mandela approved that massacre and other ANC killings from his prison cell, and there is no evidence that he personally killed anyone but the same could be said about Stalin or Hitler, and the violent history of the ANC, the organisation he led is not in question.

According to the Human Rights Commission it is estimated that during the Apartheid period some21,000 people were killed, however both the UN Crimes against Humanity commission and South Africa's own Truth and Reconciliation Commission are in agreement that in those 43 years the South African Security forces killed a total of 518 people. The rest, (some 92%) were accounted for by Africans killing Africans, many by means of the notorious and gruesome practice of necklacingwhereby a car tyre full of petrol is placed around a victim's neck and set alight. This particularly cruel form of execution was frequently carried out at the behest of the ANC with the enthusiastic support of Mandela's demonic wife Winnie.

The brutal reappearance of the deadly necklace in recent weeks is something I shall reluctantly focus upon later.

Given that so much blood was on the hands of his party, and, as such, the newly appointed government, some may conclude that those who praised Madela's mercy and forgiveness, when the Truth and Reconciliation tribunal set up after he came to power, to look into the Apartheid years, did not include a provision for sanctions, were being deliberately naive.

Such nativity is not uncommon when it comes to the adoring reporting of Nelson Madela, and neither is the great leader himself rarely shy of playing up his image of fatherly elder statesman and multi-purpose paragon. However, in truth, the ANC's conscious decision to reject a policy of non-violence, such as that chosen by Gandhi, in their struggle against the white government, had left them, and by extension, their leader, with at least as much blood on their hands as their one time oppressors, and this fact alone prevented them from enacting the revenge which might otherwise have been the case.

As the first post Apartheid president of South Africa it would, be unfair if not ludicrous to judge Mandela entirely on the basis of events before he came to power, and in any event there is many arespected world leader or influential statesman with a blood stained past so let us now examine Nelson Mandela's achievements, and the events which have occurred in South Africa in the 14 short years since he took power in following the post Apartheid election in 1994, and the new South Africa which he created after coming to power on a surge of worldwide optimism and hope in 1994, when, following the end of Apartheid, he and his followers promised a new dawn for what became termed the Rainbow Nation.

Today South Africa stands out as one of the most dangerous and crime ridden nations on Earthwhich is not actively at War. In 2001, only seven years after the end of Apartheid, whilst the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands with 5,6 murders per 100,000 population was declared the "murder capitol of Europe", Johannesburg, with 61.2 murders per 100,00 population and remains the world's top murder city.

In South Africa as a whole, the murder rate is seven times that of America, in terms of rape the rate is ten times as high and includes the ugly phenomenon of child rape, one of the few activities in which South Africa is now a world leader. If you don't believe me, you can read what Oprah Winfrey has to say about it here.

All other forms of violent crime are out of control, and Johannesburg is among the top world cities for muggings and violent assault, a fact seldom mentioned in connection with the 2010 World Cup which is scheduled to be hosted in South Africa.

As always with black violence the primary victims are their fellow blacks, however, the rape, murder and violent assault of whites is a daily event, and there is more ...

As with the Matabeleland massacres, news of which the BBC, together with much of the world media suppressed for twenty years to protect their one time hero, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, another secret genocide is being ignored by the world media, the genocide of white Boer farmers, thousands of whom have been horribly tortured to death in their homes since the end of Apartheid. Anyone who clicks on this link should we warned that it includes some very gruesome images as the savagery of these attacks belie the authorities attempts to dismiss them as nothing more than a "crime wave".

Given that it is now all but illegal in South Africa to report the race of either victim or the perpetrator of a crime (unless the perpetrator is white and the victim black) and as modern South Africa's official crime statistics are notoriously massaged, it is impossible to know the exact numbers of farm murders that have taken place. Many reliable sources estimate the figure as close to 3,000, but even if we take the more conservative figure of 1,600 quoted in the politically correct South African press (but not quoted at all in ours) this is three times the numbers killed by the South African security forces over a period of 43 years, and which the UN calls a crime against humanity.

To put this in perspective, the population of South Africa is 47 million, (13 million less than Britain despite its far greater land mass) of which the 4.3 million whites account for 9.1%, about 1% less than the immigrant population of Britain. Can you imagine the outcry if 1,600 (let alone 3,000) members of a minority community in Britain were tortured to death by the native population?.

Yet when the victims are white, there is hardly a peep in the South African press and silence from the international media. Compare this to when a white youth is the killer, such as in the case of Johan Nel, who shot three Africans, a story which became instant world wide news with the predictable screams of racism and machete wielding mobs baying for his blood.

(And they accuse us of hate?!! Don't such people nauseate themselves with their hypocrisy?!)

Crime aside, Mandela and his ANC inherited the strongest economy in Africa, indeed, despite economic sanctions, South Africa was still one of the richest world nations, and indeed initially there was a brief post Apartheid boom, resulting from the lifting of sanctions and due to the fact that until affirmative action forced most of the whites out of their jobs to be replaced by under qualified blacks, those who had built South Africa were still in place.

However, any optimism was to be short lived. Now, after just 14 years of rule by Mandela and his grim successor Mbeke, corruption is rife, the country is beset with power cuts and the infrastructure is crumbling.

The nation's great cities like Durban and Johannesburg, which could once rival the likes of Sydney, Vancouver and San Francisco, had descended in to decaying crime ridden slums within a decade.

And in recent months we have seen the so called Rainbow nations ultimate humiliation, as xenophobic anti immigration violence spreads across the country. (“xenophobic” is what the media call racism when blacks do it) As poverty and unemployment explodes and is exacerbated by the floods of immigrants flooding in to escape the even more advanced Africanisation of the rest of the country, the mobs turn on those they blame for stealing their jobs, their homes, and their women.

Thus the cycle turns, and, like watching some barbaric version of “back to the future", on the news we see exactly the same scenes we saw on our televisions twenty years ago, wrecked buildings, burning vehicles, mobs brandishing machetes, axes and knives hacking at everything and everyone which comes within their reach. Most horrific of all, we see the return of that most savage symbol of African brutality, the necklace where, to the cheers of a blood thirsty crowd, some poor trembling soul, with a tire around his neck, is dragged from his home and set alight, exactly as all those other poor souls were set alight throughout the Apartheid years, when we were told it was all the evil white man's fault.

As nothing else the return of the necklace exposes the failure of Mandela's revolution, and those who fought for him should weep.

Under Apartheid, blacks and whites went to separate hospitals but they received world class health care, whatever their colour, now the facilities are collapsing or non-existent. Black children went to different schools than white children, but they received an education, something which is now a privileged luxury. When they grew up, their bosses may have been white, but they had jobs and a living wage, as the recent violence shows us, such security is but a memory for most South Africans.

Eighteen years after Nelson and Winnie made their historic walk towards the cameras, and 14 years, since Mandela assumed power on a tide of optimism, a once proud South Africa slides like a crumbling, crime ridden, wreck towards a precipice created though greed, corruption and incompetence.

For all his gleaming smiles, grandfatherly hand gestures, and folksy sound bites, tomorrow night, when crowd cheers the retired terrorist in the gaudy shirt, they would do best not to focus too closely upon his much admired legacy, as they might just find that the Xhosan Emperor has no clothes. For Nelson Mandela's lasting achievement is that, in the face of a world wishing him well, he, and the party he leads, have shown the world that, for all its flaws, Apartheid was a more benign system than what replaced it, and that the average South African was immeasurably better off under the hated white rule than they are under the alternative which black rule has created.

That is quite an achievement, even for a living legend.

Let's vote out the ANC - Xhosa king

AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo has launched a scathing attack on President Jacob Zuma and the ANC, saying they are "corrupt hooligans" who ate out of the Guptas' dustbins.

Dalindyebo hijacked a prayer service for the ailing Nelson Mandela, in Qunu, Eastern Cape, and told well-wishers that the ANC had distorted the former president's legacy.
The king warned: "If the ANC does not change its direction and keeps on behaving arrogant[ly], rather vote for the DA, it has never oppressed anybody."
Addressing several AbaThembu chiefs, clergy and villagers at the Bumbane Great Place, just outside Qunu, Mandela's home village, on Saturday, Dalindyebo said he could no longer sit idly by and watch the organisation his forefathers gave birth to being destroyed from within.
"It seems like we don't have human beings in the ANC listening to [party] members. We have members rushing for the Guptas' dustbins."
Zuma has come under fierce criticism for his links with the Gupta family, which in May landed a chartered aircraft carrying more than 200 wedding guests at Waterkloof Air Force Base, Pretoria, breaching security protocols.
A number of Zuma 's relatives are involved in business deals with the Gupta family.
"If you eat out of the dustbins of the Guptas you are a non-starter. If you fear to speak out about what is wrong ...we are not.
"We are not rushing for the Guptas' dustbins. You [the ANC] have been corrupted by rich people," said Dalindyebo to loud applause.
The ANC yesterday accused the king of abusing his position by insulting Zuma . ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said Dalindyebo had no right to insult Zuma.
"It's unfortunate that such comments come from the king.
''He can't insult a head of state and then demand to be respected in return."
The king hailed Mandela, a member of his AbaThembu clan, as a leader who had tirelessly fought for South Africans and was always available to the people. He lashed out at Zuma for not upholding Mandela's principles.
"Zuma's leadership is distorting Madiba's leadership; it's distorting the ANC's leadership," he said.
Criticism of Zuma has intensified in recent days, with businessman and socialite Kenny Kunene attacking him and his leadership in an open letter at the weekend.
This, surprisingly, prompted the ANC to issue a statement on Friday defending Zuma and the organisation from "opposition forces".
The ruling party said it was "convinced that the mainstay strategy of the opposition forces in all formations and structures is that of agitation for discontent".
As the country prepares to hold general elections in about 10 months' time, attacks on Zuma are expected to increase.
But Dalindyebo's message was particularly clear and brutal.
"If the ANC continues to [govern] the country for the next 10 years then you should know that your freedom will be compromised," he said.
"The ANC should be out of power within the next six years, if not at the next elections. Let's take them out democratically."
The party's failures, he said, had forced him to look to the DA.
"The DA has never oppressed anyone as an organisation. To segregate the DA is to segregate your own future. Ïf you give hooligans an inch of respect, then you will see the butchering of standards," he said.
He added that he would soon invite DA provincial leader Athol Trollip and Helen Zille to address the AbaThembu.
"One of the reasons I don't want to be under this government is because of [the] credentials of the head of state. The president . I can't enjoy his leadership. I will stop smoking dagga the day Zuma stops being corrupt. One of the reasons I don't want to be associated with the government is because I don't have respect for them."
But Mthembu said the king must not decide for his subjects.
"The king speaks for himself and his subjects will decide for themselves who to vote for come the elections," Mthembu said.

Church Street Bombings - 20th May 1983

The Church Street bombing murdered both black and white people, and far more civilians than police or military.

Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983
Church street bombing, 20 May 1983

Church Street Bombings and Greta Apelgren

People don’t forgive or forget

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Greta Apelgren cannot get a job in Durban. She’ll apply, but prospective employers always ask if she’s “the same” Greta Apelgren. That goes for government jobs, too.
“They ask me: ‘Why didn’t you declare your crimes on your application? Are you ashamed of it?’ And I say: ‘But I got amnesty. That was the whole point.’”
Of course, she is “the same” Greta Apelgren, even if she changed her name and her faith for a while when she was married. She is the woman convicted for her part in the escape of fellow Umkhonto we Sizwe operative Gordon Webster from the Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg in May 1986. And, together with Aboobaker Ismail – her immediate commander in their Special Operations Unit – and her comrades Robert McBride and Matthew Lecordier, Apelgren got amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for that.
She also got amnesty for her part in the explosion at the Why Not Restaurant and Magoo’s Bar on June 17, 1986 – although Apelgren was never convicted for the deadly blast. She applied to the TRC as a matter of conscience, together with Ismail, McBride, Lecordier, Earnest Pule, Lester Dumakude and Johannes Molefe.
Apelgren, like McBride, had apologised, but the geography of anger did not change.
“To a lot of people in Durban, I’m still Greta the terrorist. It does haunt me but I’ve had to just accept that, really, we are thought of and probably will always be thought of, as the most rotten of all. Besides Magoo’s, there was the audacity of springing Gordon from Edendale Hospital. I don’t know. I suppose Robert and I will always be thought of as something of a Bonnie and Clyde.”
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Blast: Robert McBride was convicted of the Magoo s bombing.
For Apelgren, who was born and grew up in the poor community of Wentworth, it has been painful to spend so many years away from it. She’s been living and working in the Northern and Eastern Cape since the late 1990s. Apelgren was in her late twenties when she and McBride, then 21, were arrested.
It’s been 25 years since she drove her sister Jeanette’s Mazda 323 towards West Street, following McBride and Lecordier in a Cortina packed with explosives. Two and a half decades of being “Greta the Terrorist” to so many people.
On June 14, without being briefed on the detail of what was going to happen, MK operative Apelgren sat in the Mazda to keep a parking bay for McBride. Those were her instructions under the the discretion of McBride’s autonomy as a commander of the Special Operations Unit that reported through Ismail to MK headquarters and Joe Slovo, who answered to ANC president Oliver Tambo.
Once McBride had set a timing device for 15 minutes, with Lecordier on the lookout in the light drizzle, he and Lecordier walked to meet Apelgren. They drove to a mobile police station in the middle of Durban to see if the police would rush towards the blast, which is exactly what happened.
Charged on 18 counts, mostly of terrorism, Apelgren was sentenced to 21 months for the Webster escape. There was a national state of emergency in place and when she was first captured, Apelgren was one of 28 women held under Section 29 of the Internal Security Act. It provided for indefinite detention, with interrogation and solitary confinement. In other words, it allowed relentless, unknowable torture. That’s what happened to Apelgren.
“I described it once as if maggots had eaten part of my soul and it will always be that way,” Apelgren said this week from Bhisho, where she lives, working as a senior manager in the Eastern Cape government’s strategic management support unit.
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Involved: MK operative Earnest Pule applied for amnesty with Greta Apelgren.
She was taken to the CR Swart police station in Durban after being arrested with McBride in Nigel on the East Rand.
Apelgren was tortured day in and day out for a week. Her two main interrogators told her they had been in a car outside the Parade Hotel having “a good couple of drinks because the drinks were too expensive at Magoo’s” when the bomb went off.
“They were swearing at me: ‘We would have died if we’d been in the hotel! We would have died!’”
A favourite torture method for the security policemen was to put a plastic bag over her head and seal it so that she could not breathe. That would go on until the plastic was clinging to her nostrils, mouth and eyelids and her body was starting to spasm. They would also threaten her with the murder of her four-year-old nephew.
“I suppose being a township girl, I had a high threshold for physical pain. I was never going to confess. I said to them: ‘I want to hang by my neck.’ I knew I was going to die, but I was not going to confess privately to some judge. All the time they were torturing me, I was praying. While they were screaming and I was being strangled, I was praying. That made it possible for me to not feel the pain. You’re not physically there when you are praying so hard.”
In all, Apelgren survived more than 100 days of isolation in a solitary cell.
“The problem with a traumatic experience is that it takes but a small sound, a picture of something, to remind you, and this usually happens at the worst times when you just cannot afford to remember. You cry and get so depressed. It’ll never really go away. You can’t totally heal. You just accept the damage.
“Going to the TRC (in 1997) definitely did help me. Up until then, I was afraid even to tell my own family about it. But in that TRC environment,you’re forced tell them everything. You want to rationalise and say only XYZ not ABC, but there, ABC makes its way out. And for me, previously not being able to bear to cry in front of other people, it was quite something.
“Even my sister Jeanette couldn’t talk to me about it. When I came out of prison, she used to cry for hours. Then in 2003, I went to visit her in Australia, where she is living now, and she took out a roll of toilet paper on which she had recorded all the terrible things that had happened to her when she was in detention herself and I realised what she went through.”
When Apelgren first got out of prison, she got a job within two weeks with an NGO and spent seven years in Durban.
“I did mix with a lot of other comrades and there was an ex-political prisoners’ committee because there were so many guys, so many who had been sent to Robben Island. But it was difficult. People want you to carry your crimes with you. So I took a job in Kimberley.”
It wasn’t just any job. Apelgren, a qualified social worker, was appointed to the post of director of welfare. But when she visits Durban, her emotional housekeeping goes awry. “When I go home and go past the beachfront and that hotel, yes, I’m reminded.” But she is constantly reminded
. “I never stop thinking about it.”
Apelgren has been a political activist for 44 years, since she was 11, and attended her first political meeting with her parents in Wentworth in the 1960s. Her parents were factory workers and had themselves been conscientised before they were in their 20s. Still, they took it hard when Apelgren was held under suspicion of being involved in the Magoo’s bomb.
“Even though the community was quite politicised generally, to be arrested with anything to do with terrorism and the security police, that was something else. Immediately people stopped greeting them and walked on the other side of the pavement. They hadn’t expected that immense rejection. But fortunately after we appeared in court and started to testify, different issues came out and the community started to understand it.
“Violence had always been far from my mind, even though I knew the four pillars of MK. It never occurred to me. I was a professional social worker. I went to discos. I went to church. I dressed glamourously. I was involved in politics. But to kill other people. I had planned to get married and have five children and have a beautiful life. But nothing in that era was normal.”
A turning point came when the SADF killed children in a raid on an ANC safe house in Lesotho.
“I couldn’t understand that. If they really wanted to get those few activists, why didn’t they just go and kill them? Why kill children? That affected me terribly.
“There was also the case of some young activists who had left country, not yet trained, at about 19, 18. They were extremely young. Not yet very involved and I remember Oliver Tambo was at their funeral in Mozambique and there were all these coffins with these young men inside there who really hadn’t done anything yet.
“Then, as a social worker, I saw the separation of black women who had had relationships with white men from their blond, blue-eyed children in Addington Hospital. And that hurt me very much.”
There is much that unnerves and troubles Apelgren, “and will, for the rest of my life”. The deaths at Magoo’s are “a spiritual burden which will never go away. I’ll have to carry that till I die. I didn’t know the extent to which those injured had been permanently disabled until we were shown their medical records in court. Some were quite horrific. I really felt bad about it, but I had to remind myself that I didn’t do it as an individual for fun or for any person. Sometimes, yes, a lot of the time, I do feel really bad. I feel bad. How could you not feel bad about it?
“But I have to remind myself I wasn’t playing a game. It was a war situation and that was an act of war. I have to counsel myself spiritually. All guerrilla fighters feel this way. You do feel a detachment. It’s very difficult to say that under the same circumstances, you would never do it again.
“I had always been a person who was too sure of myself. I always knew what I wanted in life. I was always successful. But that experience really humbled me. I learnt humility more than anything else.
“When I talk to my nieces and nephews about it, the main question they want answered is: why did you have to go to prison? I try to simplify it because they’re distracted by romance and fashion and music. So I only have one word – racism. That’s what took us to the brink of destruction. And what we have to do is keep fighting racism, that’s the only message.
“That was our only conflict.”

Mandela and The Ambulance That Broke Down

» Ambulance engine failed on the road
» His wife, Graça Machel, was ‘frantic’
» Doctors say Madiba could have died
Former president Nelson Mandela was fighting for his life in a military ambulance in the early hours of a bitterly cold Saturday morning two weeks ago when the vehicle broke down on the highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Madiba, who receives 24-hour medical care at his Houghton house, had suffered a serious medical setback and an emergency ambulance was summoned from 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria.
He was rushed to the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria after being resuscitated.
Then the ambulance broke down.
For about 40 minutes, medical staff and nurses had to keep Mandela alive while the vehicle was stuck next to the road in icy 6°C weather.
Graça Machel, Mandela’s wife, travelled with him in the ambulance. Three separate sources have confirmed that she was “frantic”.
After the long wait a second ambulance, also from 1 Military Hospital, arrived. A frail Mandela was carried on a stretcher on the side of the road to the new vehicle.
As Madiba prepared to spend his 15th night in hospital, shocking details of what happened in the early hours of June 8 began to emerge yesterday.
President Jacob Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, yesterday confirmed that Mandela’s ambulance had broken down due to “engine failure”.
Several sources with direct knowledge of the incident confirmed Madiba had to be resuscitated, but were unable to describe exactly what prompted the dire situation.
CBS News reported yesterday that Mandela went into cardiac arrest, but that couldn’t be independently confirmed.
Cardiologists said yesterday that the elderly statesman and Nobel laureate could have died next to the road.
It is an indication of how serious his condition was – that in the early hours of the morning an emergency military ambulance was summoned from 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria to rush Mandela to hospital.
Mandela’s ambulance waited on the side of the road for between 40 and 45 minutes until a replacement ambulance arrived.
The second ambulance had to travel all the way from 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria to the scene of the breakdown.
When the allegations were first put to Maharaj, he was angry, saying that he had no comment.
But a couple of hours later, he issued a startling admission: it was true, Madiba’s ambulance had broken down due to “engine failure”.
Maharaj would not be drawn on why it took so long for a second ambulance to arrive and whether the fact that it wasn’t already on stand-by as backup was a violation of protocol.
Instead, he issued a formal statement saying “the fully equipped military ICU ambulance transporting former president Nelson Mandela . . . had a full complement of specialist medical staff, including intensive care specialists and ICU nurses.
“The convoy included two quick-response vehicles.”
Maharaj said that “when the ambulance experienced engine problems, it was decided that it would be best to transfer to another military ambulance, which itself was accompanied for the rest of the journey by a civilian ambulance”.
He is insistent that “all care was taken to ensure that former president Mandela’s medical condition was not compromised by the unforeseen incident”.
“The doctors attending are satisfied that the former president suffered no harm during this period.”
But cardiologist Dr David Janekelow disagrees that the delay did not impact on Mandela’s health.
“You want to get to emergency care as quickly as possible. If somebody had to be resuscitated and there is a delay in getting to hospital, that could have significant consequences.
“It is difficult to assess without a proper medical examination, but any delay is a cause for serious concern.”
Another cardiologist, Dr Richard Nethononda, agreed with Janekelow saying: “Mandela could have died on the roadside while waiting for another ambulance to arrive.”
He explained that health professionals know that the moments after a person has had a cardiac arrest (if that is indeed what Mandela suffered) are “golden minutes”.
“This means that anything can happen, because the person’s blood circulation and oxygen supply are very low and this could affect his liver, kidneys and the brain, leading to organ failure.”
Nethononda also criticised those who took the decision to drive Mandela all the way from Houghton to Pretoria, saying it was “very irresponsible” of them.
“Mandela is old and frail and that means his kidneys could be functioning at 50%. They should have done a risk assessment and rushed to the nearest hospital where he would have been stabilised and then transferred to the Pretoria hospital,” he explained.
Dr Jeff King, also a cardiologist, said: “If Mandela was still being manually resuscitated when the ambulance broke down, it would have had an impact on his health.
“But if he was stable, it wouldn’t have made a difference, because the ambulance and the staff would have been fully equipped to offer medical assistance while waiting for another ambulance to arrive.”
Pikkie Greeff, the secretary of the SA National Defence Union, yesterday said “the breakdown (of the ambulance) comes as no surprise as it is well-known that the SA National Defence Force does not have the technical staff to maintain its vehicles properly and many of the ambulances are over a decade old”.
He said that 1 Military Hospital does not even trust its own military ambulances, preferring to “outsource civilian vehicles to transport its patients to the military hospital”.
Greeff added: “We are paying the price for the arms deal, where billions of rands were spent on unnecessary weapons and vessels instead of spending it on support infrastructure.”
The former president had been battling a lung infection for a few days prior to his hospitalisation.
Mandela contracted TB while in jail in 1988 and back then had to be rushed to hospital where he went into surgery and had more than 2 litres of fluid removed from his lungs.
He wrote in his autobiography A Long Walk to Freedom that doctors said his condition was exacerbated by “his damp (prison) cell”.
Since then, his condition has dogged him – particularly in winter when temperatures plummet and germs are abundant.
Two weeks ago, his lung infection took a turn for the worse and affected Mandela’s breathing, to the extent that sources say he had to be resuscitated.
The South African presidency will not officially confirm or deny this, except to say that he is being treated for a lung infection.
Jankelow said that if a person goes into respiratory failure, this results in a “deprivation of oxygen, which could lead to a dangerous heart rhythm abnormality, resulting in the need for resuscitation.
“Cardiorespiratory failure leads to hypoxia – where tissues are deprived of oxygen and this affects the functioning of organs such as kidneys, liver and heart.”
Jankelow explained that this is different to a heart attack, where the cause is cardiac arrest, but both affect the ability of the heart to function and could result in a patient having to be resuscitated.
Maharaj has maintained for the past two weeks that Mandela is in a “serious but stable” condition.
President Jacob Zuma said, at one point, there were signs of improvement – a sentiment echoed by former president Thabo Mbeki in an interview with Power FM on Thursday.
Mandela’s children and grandchildren continued to visit him in hospital yesterday, with Machel leaving earlier in the morning.
The president’s wife has slept near her husband’s side every night since he’s been hospitalised.
Machel returned to the hospital after midday, followed by Madiba’s grandchildren in two cars, just before 1pm.
David Manaway, the husband of Madiba’s granddaughter Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway, was seen driving in with a black Jeep Cherokee. Another car was filled with other grandchildren.
Just after 3pm, Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, arrived with her daughter Zindzi.