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Weak heart hospitalizes former apartheid-era president

F.W. de Klerk and N. Mandela

F.W. de Klerk and N. Mandela

(GIN) — Former South African President F.W. de Klerk is in recovery following the implanting of a cardiac pacemaker. The last white president before the end of apartheid, he returned from a European trip last weekend complaining of dizzy spells.

“He has had several such spells in recent weeks, and his specialist recommended the immediate installation of a pacemaker,” said a statement from the F.W. de Klerk Foundation.

De Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former President Nelson Mandela in 1993, reportedly asked to be treated in South Africa to be nearer to Mandela, who is 94 and in his third week in critical condition in a Pretoria hospital.

According to the South African Press Association, the country’s current President Jacob Zuma sent his good wishes to de Klerk. “We wish the former president well during this difficult time. Let us keep him and his family in our thoughts and prayers,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, members of the Mandela family continue to squabble over the legacy of the independence fighter. Grandson Mandla Mandela faces a court order to return the remains of three of Madiba’s children he reportedly removed from Qunu, Madiba’s intended resting place, to rebury them in Mvezo, where Mandla holds a traditional title.

A suit against Mandla was brought by 16 members of the Mandela family who called his behavior “reprehensible.” A final decision on the suit is expected this week.

Meanwhile, in the first official update on Mandela’s health since last week, the presidency urged people to prepare for the beloved rights activist’s birthday later this month.

“We remind all South Africans to begin planning for Madiba’s birthday on the 18th of July. We must all be able to do something good for humanity on this day, in tribute to our former president,” Zuma said.

An exhibit honoring the liberation struggle veteran opened Sunday at the Cape Town Civic Center.

“Even stricken as he is in hospital, Madiba is uniting the nation again — this time in prayer,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu reflected. “We come here not to lament … but to remember some of our most precious moments. We come here to honor.”


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