Mandela breathing normally: ex-wife

Updated: 2013-08-09 12:01


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CAPE TOWN - Ailing former South African president Nelson Mandela is now breathing normally, his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said on Thursday.

Winnie denied reports that Mandela was in a permanent vegetative state, saying there was no need to conceal the fact.

Mandela's eyes still "lit up" when his children came to visit him, Winnie told the British Sky News. "That is how he communicates with them."

Winnie said the medical team has done a good job in ensuring that Mandela remains "comfortable".

Mandela has been hospitalized for exactly two months. He was admitted to a Pretoria hospital on June 8 for a recurring lung infection.

Winnie said Mandela's family members knew "the inevitable" would happen, but only God could decide when that would be.

She said family members have been hurt by continual reports of his demise.

"It's so cruel," she said. "All around us we see people erecting scaffolding, preparing for a funeral. He has been pre-deceased. Do people not think of our emotions?"

"For those of us who know him, who know his strength, it is very hard" to see him lying vulnerable in his hospital bed, she added.

The government said last week that Mandela remained in a critical but stable condition and continued to show signs of sustained improvement.

On Wednesday, Mandela's wife Graca Machel reportedly told Anglican Bishop Joe Seoka that Mandela was conscious and aware.