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S. Africans pray for Mandela

By Ntandoyenkosi Ncube  (Xinhua)

08:33, June 27, 2013

JOHANNESBURG, June 26 (Xinhua) -- As South Africa's anti- apartheid icon Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition in hospital, many interviewed by Xinhua say they are hoping for the best.

"We all love him but there is nothing we can do. Look at what is happening (at the hospital). We are expressing our love to him. We can't stop anything, but nothing can stop us to love him," Pheko Mawewe, a member of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) youth League, told Xinhua. People are ready to accept "what ever doctors will say," he said. Mandela's health continued to make headlines on Wednesday. All major newspapers carried stories about his condition on the front page.

"In struggle we loved him. In jail we loved him and hospital we love him. What ever happens we will continue to love him, he is our true hero. He will remain our father wherever he goes," 73- year-old Anti-apartheid struggle activist William Moshanyana said.

People from all walks of life gathered outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where Mandela is battling for his life, praying and singing hymns and psalms to their beloved statesman.

Some came with cards and balloons with words: "Get well soon Nelson Mandela"; "We wish you well, you are our hero."

Mandela, 94, has been hospitalized since June 8 for a recurring lung infection. This is his fourth hospitalization since December last year.

"Madiba suffered a lot in the struggle fighting for us, he suffered a lot in jail and now again in hospital. It's now time that we say to him: Rest in peace our hero. As South Africans we are now ready to accept what ever doctors say," 43-year-old Neo Masopha said.

President Jacob Zuma on Sunday evening announced that Mandela's condition had deteriorated to "critical" condition. Again on Monday and Tuesday he said Mandela's "condition remain unchanged. "

On Tuesday top members of Mandela's family held an urgent meeting in his rural village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape Province. The meeting, called to discuss "sensitive matters", was also attended by local chiefs and senior government officials.

"He (Mandela) has done a lot for us and his legacy will continue to lead us. The foundation he laid for us is strong to lead us many years to come and to the next generation," said Kutloano Moeketsi, a University of Johannesburg student.

"Its time we allow him to rest in peace. Yes, we love him, but considering his age and his condition let's accept that anything can happen now," Moshanyana added.

"Whatever happens, Mandela's legacy will remain with us. What is important is that our leaders carry out this legacy and pass it to the next generations," Mawewe said.

Mandela devoted his life to reconciliation among all South Africans.

"I don't think South Africans will abandon the Mandela magic that united them -- blacks and whites. He will continue to be our unifying factor," said Sabelo Ndlovu Gastheni, University of South Africa (UNISA) professor of Africa Developmental Studies.

Mandela rooted the spirit of love and unity in this country and anyone who will try to destroy this will be enemy to all, he said.

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