A group of elderly well-wishers arrived at the Pretoria hospital where former presidentNelson Mandela was spending his 11th day on Tuesday.
Members of Johannesburg-based Alpha World Ministries’ elderly day care, led by the institution’s director Maureen Sibadela, prayed outside the Medi-Clinic Heart hospital.
“We came to strengthen him. We still need him so much in this country. He fought a good fight and we are here to say that race is not yet over,” she said.
“He must stand up and walk. His was a good walk. He should hold on a little longer. We cannot let go of him, not now.”
She said the elderly adored Madiba so much that even those with physical difficulties had made the trip from Soweto to Pretoria.
“The people you see here, their age is from 92 years. Some have had [a] stroke and can hardly speak, but they said I am going to Pretoria and I am going to say something [at the hospital],” said Sibadela.
“Mandela’s contribution to South Africa is very important. So many [good] things that are happening in this country would not have happened if it weren’t for him. He fought for us.”
The group sang and left bouquets of roses next to the hospital’s entrance along Celliers Street.
Blocking the hospital entrance
Passers-by gathered, resulting in a momentary blockage of the entrance.
Joining the aged group’s singing, Pretoria resident Sindiso Gavi said she prayed for Mandela daily.
“I cannot do much but live in hope that he will recover. This country needs him even in our future. He will be fine, he is a fighter.”
Well-wishers have decorated the hospital entrance with get-well-soon cards, an assortment of flowers, balloons, and flags.
Some of the hand-made cards were designed in the shape of palms.
Some cards had small pictures of Mandela and others were decorated with red roses.
Multi-coloured balloons and the South African flag bore messages wishing Mandela a speedy recovery.
One of the messages read: “Your 27 years in prison really helped not only blacks but all people… Thank you, Tata. My name is Tshepang Moji and I am 11 years old.”
Another read: “Dear Madiba, we wish you the best. May God continue blessing you. From Teclar Chipfunde.”
A bright, brown sculpture of a head was next to the messages.
Several messages urged the elderly statesman to read the Bible, quoting verses from the Christian doctrine.
‘Serious but stable’
Passers-by, mainly women accompanying children to school, stopped and read the messages.
Some read them to their children.
Mandela, 94, was hospitalised in the early hours of 8 June with a recurring lung infection.
The presidency said he was in a “serious but stable” condition.
Police maintained security at the hospital, with several officers searching all vehicles entering the facility.
Mandela’s family was at the Pretoria hospital on Tuesday.
ANC MP and Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her daughter Zindzi arrived at the hospital in a black Audi.
Mandela’s other daughter Makaziwe drove into the facility in her red Range Rover.