Ambulance transporting Mandela broke down on the way to hospital


The South African government has confirmed reports the ambulance transporting former president Nelson Mandela to hospital two weeks ago broke down on the way.

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Mr Mandela was transferred to a second military ambulance flanked by a backup private ambulance.

Reports say Mr Mandela was kept waiting for 40 minutes for the replacement ambulances to arrive.

In a statement from the South African president’s officer the government made no comment on reports by US network CBS that Mr Mandela, who remains in hospital two weeks after being admitted, is in an unresponsive state and has not opened his eyes for days.

It simply stated that Mr Mandela’s condition remains in a “serious but stable” condition.

But a spokesman for the presidency says doctors are “satisfied” that Mr Mandela suffered no harm during the wait for a replacement vehicle.

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“All care was taken to ensure that the former president’s medical condition was not compromised by the unforeseen incident,” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said.

Mr Mandela was taken to hospital in the early hours of June 8.

Former president Thabo Mbeki yesterday said the Nobel Peace Prize laureate is not going to “die tomorrow” despite a growing acceptance among South Africans of his mortality.

It is his fourth hospital stay since December, leading to a growing acceptance among South Africans that the nation’s first black president may be nearing the end of his life.

Mr Mandela has a history of lung problems dating back to his time at the windswept Robben Island prison camp near Cape Town.

He was released in 1990 after 27 years behind bars and went on to serve as president from 1994 to 1999.

Although Mr Mandela has long since left the political stage and has not been seen in public since 2010, he remains a towering symbol in South African public life.


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