S.Africa’s De Klerk hospitalised
South Africa's last apartheid president FW de Klerk was hospitalised Tuesday to receive a pacemaker, as his fellow Nobel peace laureate Nelson Mandela lies critically ill.
De Klerk cut short a visit to Europe over the weekend because of Mandela’s ailing health, only to fall ill himself. The 77-year-old felt dizzy after his return from Europe on Sunday and saw his physician.
“The specialist recommended immediate installation of a pacemaker,” his spokesman Dave Steward told AFP.
“It’s a routine procedure. He will spend the night in hospital.”
De Klerk will receive the device, which helps the heart beat at a normal rate, in a Cape Town hospital.
Meanwhile, 94-year-old Mandela is spending a 25th day of treatment in a Pretoria health facility for a recurring lung infection.
He is in a critical but stable condition, the South African president’s office said Monday evening.
De Klerk — a one-time hard-liner — dismantled white-minority rule and authorised the release of Mandela from prison in 1990, a decision that changed the course of South African history.
Sometimes heated talks between the two and their factions in the end brought about the first all-race elections in 1994 which propelled Mandela to power.
The two men shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.
At a prayer meeting in downtown Johannesburg on Tuesday, organised by the ruling African National Congress, hundreds of supporters gathered to wish Mandela well.
“Growing old is not a curse — it’s a blessing,” ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told the crowd outside the organisation’s headquarters, which was adorned with a huge poster of Mandela.
“We are not tired of having our old icon. We still want him to live for a long time,” Mantashe told the cheering crowd.
ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete added: “We hope that you come out of that hospital. We still want to learn from your example.”