Mandela: Presidency Denies 'Vegetative' Claim

The South African presidency has denied former leader Nelson Mandela is in a "vegetative state" after court documents suggested his life support should be turned off.
The declaration from members of Mr Mandela's family that he was in a "permanent vegetative state" came as part of a dispute over the graves of three of his children.
But the presidency said in a statement it "would like to make a clarification" about the former president's condition which remains "critical, but stable".
"We confirm our earlier statement released ... after President Jacob Zuma visited Madiba (Mandela) in hospital."
The statement said he remains under the 24-hour care of "a team of doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health professionals".
The court documents dated June 26 said: "He is in a permanent vegetative state and is 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.
"Rather than prolonging his suffering, the Mandela family is exploring this option as a very real probability."
The "certificate of urgency" document was obtained from a lawyer representing Mandela family members who had successfully sought a court order to return the children's remains to the revered South African leader's childhood home.
The legal battle was launched after Mr Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela had them moved from the family estate in Qunu to his own village 15 miles away.
The document was presented to South Africa's Eastern Cape High Court as President Jacob Zuma reported that Mr Mandela's health had faltered and cancelled a trip to Mozambique.
Since it was written, the South African government, family members and hospital visitors have reported that Mr Mandela's condition has improved.
The following day Mr Zuma reported that Mr Mandela's health had "improved during the course of the night".
"He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night. The medical team continues to do a sterling job," Mr Zuma said in a statement on June 27.
Lawyers for Mr Mandela's relatives, family members themselves and government officials were not immediately available for comment.
Earlier, Mr Mandela's wife said the former president is sometimes uncomfortable but seldom in pain while being treated in a hospital.
Graca Machel spoke about her husband's condition at a fundraising drive for a children's hospital that will be named after the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader.
"Whatever is the outcome of his stay in hospital ... he offered his nation an opportunity to be united under the banner of our flag, under the banner of our constitution," she said.


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