Over the weekend, former South African President Nelson Mandela, known affectionately as Madiba, took a turn for the worse, with his office saying he was in critical condition.
Crowds of people are currently standing outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, where Mandela has been treated since June 8th–news outlets and citizens holding balloons, signs, flowers, and cards–many praying for the recovery and some accepting the inevitable passing of their beloved 94-year old former leader.
Considered the founding father to the country’s post-apartheid democracy, Mandela is being treated for a recurring lung infection, which previously authorities had described as serious but stable.
Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe Mandela left the hospital Monday night, SAPA reported. Other family members, including ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and daughters Zindzi Mandela-Motlhajwa and Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, and government officials have all paid visits.
President Barack Obama’s visit to the country of 53 million is planned for this week, and according to the press association it remains on schedule.
Makaziwe Mandela told CNN’s Robyn Curnow, “I believe he is at peace. All we do every day is take one day at a time and pray to the good Lord. All I pray for as a daughter is that the transition is smooth. … He is at peace with himself. He has given so much to the world.”
Mandela’s lung issues date back to his days as a political prisoner during the apartheid era, serving 27 years on Robben Island. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has battled respiratory infections since.
“The African National Congress joins the presidency in calling upon all of us to keep President Mandela, his family and his medical team in our thoughts and prayers during this trying time,” it said.
“We have seen the latest reports from the South African government that former President Mandela is in critical condition,” Caitlin Hayden, a U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman, said in a statement Sunday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and the people of South Africa.”