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Mandela still critical, grandson to lodge complaint

JOHANNESBURG – Nelson Mandela remained hospitalised in a critical state today after doctors ruled out turning off his life support , unless he suffers massive organ failure.

Meanwhile his grandson’s lawyers were planning to lodge an official  complaint over a court document which they say falsely claimed he was “in a  permanent vegetative state”.

The anti-apartheid hero’s health condition was unchanged over the weekend,  South Africa’s presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told AFP on Saturday.

He is in a critical but stable condition after his June 8 admittance for an  obstinate pulmonary infection and relies on machines to help him breathe.

A close friend of the former statesman had said turning off life support  was discussed and ultimately dismissed.

“I was told the matter had been raised and the doctors said they would only  consider such a situation if there was a genuine state of organ failure,” Denis  Goldberg, who has known Mandela for more than 50 years, told AFP on Friday.

“Since that hasn’t occurred they were quite prepared to go on stabilising  him until he recovers.”

The 80-year-old Goldberg was convicted along with Mandela in 1964 for their  fight against white-minority rule.

He visited the former president in hospital on Monday.

A court document filed by a lawyer for Mandela’s feuding family 10 days ago  stated the 94-year-old was “assisted in breathing by a life support machine”.

“The Mandela family have been advised by the medical practitioners that his  life support machine should be switched off,” the court filing read.

“Rather than prolonging his suffering, the Mandela family is exploring this  option as a very real probability.”

The document — which was designed to press a court to urgently settle a  family row over the remains of Mandela’s children — also stated that Mandela  was “in a permanent vegetative state”.

South Africa’s presidency has said that is not the case, but refused to  give further details of his condition, citing the need to respect Mandela’s  privacy.

President Jacob Zuma, Mandela family members and his close friends have  reported since last week his condition has improved.

Maharaj told AFP on Friday that Zuma’s office “had not been party” to the  court material and would not speculate on its content.

Earlier Goldberg said Mandela was “clearly a very ill man, but he was  conscious and he tried to move his mouth and eyes when I talked to him”.

Mandela spent 27 years in prison for fighting white-minority rule and went  on to lead the process of racial reconciliation as South Africa’s first black  president.

Meanwhile an acerbic feud between his relatives showed little sign of  abating.

Lawyers for his grandson Mandla were to lodge a formal complaint against  his relatives’ legal team who they claim gave a false version of Mandela’s  health.

“They relied on certain affidavits in particular with regards to the health  of the (former) president which wasn’t true,” Mandla’s lawyer Gary Jansen told  Sapa news agency.

Mandela’s three deceased children were buried at his proposed burial ground  in Qunu, his childhood village, on Thursday.

Fifteen family members had won a court order against Mandela after he moved  the graves two year ago without their consent.

But the fall-out from the dispute continued to reverberate.

In a nationally-televised news conference Mandla accused one of his  brothers of impregnating his wife and said others were born out of wedlock.

The family had laid a charge of grave tampering against him, and  investigators were wrapping up the case, a spokesman told AFP.

“The police are finalising the investigation and the docket will be handed  over to the senior prosecutor for his decision on Tuesday,” said police  spokesman Mzukisi Fatyela. – AFP

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