Nation consumed by sadness, says Verwoerd
FORMER South African Ambassador to Ireland Melanie Verwoerd has told of the sadness in her home country over Nelson Mandela's failing health.
The former president (94) was re-admitted to hospital in Pretoria with a renewed lung infection over the weekend and the nation is preparing itself for the worst.
"There's an incredible depth of love for Madiba and he is seen as much as a father and grandfather. But for the first time now there is a general, universal acceptance that his death is more imminent than we'd like it to be," Ms Verwoerd told the Irish Independent.
Anti-apartheid activist Ms Verwoerd, left, who first met Mandela in 1990, and was one of the youngest MPs representing the ANC, said there had been a "growing sense of protectiveness" around the retired political leader.
"It has been accepted for a significant period of time that he has stepped back from public life and that he should be allowed to gently spend time with people that he loved and those close to him."