World

South African government denies Mandela in a coma

Visitor says he’s aware

Well-wishers wrote messages on a portrait of Nelson Mandela outside the Pretoria hospital where he is a patient.
DAI KUROKAWA/EPA
Well-wishers wrote messages on a portrait of Nelson Mandela outside the Pretoria hospital where he is a patient.

JOHANNESBURG — The South African government has denied a report that former president Nelson Mandela was in a “permanent vegetative state” in a Pretoria hospital, saying Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader, remains in “critical but stable” condition.

The Thursday report by the Agence France-Presse pointed to court papers filed June 26 in a dispute among Mandela family members over the burial location of three of Mandela’s children.

In the document, a lawyer for members of the Mandela family explained why they believed the court should act urgently on the matter, pointing to Mandela’s life-threatening condition. Also on Thursday, Mandela’s wife, Graça Machel, described him as sometimes uncomfortable and in pain, but otherwise “fine.”

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Denis Goldberg, a former fellow anti-apartheid activist who visited Mandela in the hospital Monday, said that he had found the ailing former president “totally conscious” and in much better shape than he had expected.

New York Times