Archbishop swamped by media and onlookers after visiting Mr Mandela in hospital – 19 July 2013

PRETORIA: Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited former President Mr Nelson Mandela at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria today. It was the 41st day that the former President has spent in hospital after being admitted with a lung infection, and a day after his 95th birthday.

Speaking to media outside the hospital security check-point, where well-wishers have plastered the walls with messages of love and support for Mr Mandela, Archbishop Tutu said Mr Mandela was sleeping peacefully when he visited, and that he had held his friend’s hand.

“We have a special gift in a man who can unite not only South Africa but the world, even from his sick bed,” Archbishop Tutu said.

He paid warm tribute to Mr Mandela’s wife, Mrs Graca Machel, an extraordinarily strong and gracious woman who has given Mr Mandela much comfort and joy. Yesterday was the couple’s fifteenth wedding anniversary. Archbishop Tutu also acknowledged Mr Mandela’s former wife for her courage in the hard times. “She knows that I love her very much.”

Archbishop Tutu was accompanied by his daughter Reverend Mpho Tutu, Chief Executive of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.