Doctors have asked Nelson Mandela’s family to consider turning off his life support to avoid prolonging his suffering, it was revealed last night.
Court documents say medics recommended the heartbreaking decision to pull the plug ten days ago because South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero is now in a “permanent vegetative state”.
The news came as a bitter feud over where the 94-year-old former president should be buried appeared to be resolved.
A slanging match wife Graca Machel, 67, and eldest daughter Makaziwe, 59, were having with his grandson Mandla culminated yesterday with the reburial of his three dead children at his childhood home in remote Qunu, Eastern Cape.
That paved the way for the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s dying wish to be fulfilled by laying him to rest alongside them in the village he grew up in.
Mandla, 39, is accused of “stealing” the bones from a Qunu graveyard two years ago and putting them on his homestead in Mvezo 20 miles away — to ensure Mr. Mandela would also be buried there to attract rich pilgrims to a memorial centre.
Mr. Mandela contracted TB while in prison for 27 years from 1964 for challenging the brutal white rule government and now has lung disease. He is also said to be suffering kidney and liver failure — and South Africa’s population of 53 million was last night anxiously waiting to see if the family would flick the switch in capital Pretoria’s Heart Hospital.
The high court document adds: “Rather than prolonging his suffering, the Mandela family is exploring this option as a very real probability.”
But wife Graca and daughter Makaziwe were opposed to the heartbreaking move.
Graca last night said: “As long as he is in hospital, he unites us all. Sometimes he is in pain. But he is fine.”
And President Jacob Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj claimed: “There clearly is not a vegetative state.”
President Zuma even hinted he could be released from hospital soon.
The three children exhumed are an infant girl who died in 1948, a boy, Thembi, who died in a car crash in 1969, and Mandla’s father, Makgatho. Mandela had six children from three marriages.