[News] Mandela's son dies of AIDS

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Fri Jan 7 08:48:18 EST 2005

DATE:  THU, 6 JANUARY 2005 22:39:08 EST



By John Chiahamen, Reuters

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) -- South Africa's Nelson Mandela, one 
of Africa's most committed campaigners in the battle against AIDS, 
announced that his only surviving son had succumbed to the disease Thursday.

Makgatho Mandela, 54, died in a Johannesburg clinic where he had been 
receiving treatment for more than a month. His wife Zondi died in 2003 from 

"I announce that my son has died of AIDS," the 86-year-old Nobel Peace 
laureate told a news conference, urging a redoubled fight against the 
disease. "Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it, because the 
only way to make it appear like a normal illness like TB, like cancer, is 
always to come out and to say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS.

And people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary," said a 
frail-looking Mandela, surrounded by his grandchildren and other family 

Mandela's announcement of his personal AIDS tragedy challenged the 
widespread taboo which keeps many Africans from discussing an epidemic 
which now infects more than 25 million people across the continent. In 
South Africa, which with some five million HIV/AIDS infections has the 
highest AIDS caseload in the world, the disease kills more than 600 people 
each day, activists say. Despite the mounting death toll, few public 
figures in South Africa or other African countries have personally come 
forward to say that AIDS has effected them or their families.

Deaths from the disease are usually attributed to a "long illness," 
pneumonia, or other secondary causes. Veteran opposition leader Mangosuthu 
Buthelezi of the Inkatha Freedom Party helped to break the silence last 
year when he announced that two of his
children had died from AIDS-related causes.

Mandela lost his first son, Madiba Thembekile, in a car crash in 1969 while 
still in prison for his efforts to end white rule in South Africa. The
apartheid government denied him permission to attend that funeral. Mandela, 
who looks increasingly frail in his public appearances, has
suffered a string of personal losses over the last several years. He buried 
Makgatho's mother, his first wife Evelyn Mase, in 2004 and attended the 
funeral for Makgatho's wife Zondi following her death.

In 2003, Mandela led South Africa in mourning for his African National 
Congress comrade Walter Sisulu, whose death at age 90 left Mandela almost 
alone among the elder generation of leaders who helped end apartheid and 
bring multi-racial democracy to South Africa in 1994.
Mandela had canceled several holiday engagements over the past month to 
remain close to his ailing son. He has several daughters from his marriages 
including two from his second wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Mandela officially retired from public life last year, but has nevertheless 
kept up a busy schedule promoting his various causes -- chief among them 
the fight against South Africa's devastating AIDS epidemic.

Makgatho Mandela was a lawyer with a background in insurance who kept a 
relatively low profile. He had been married twice and had three sons, all 
of whom appeared with Mandela as he announced the cause of their father's 


6 January 2005

The African National Congress joins the nation in extending its deepest 
sympathies and condolences to former President
Nelson Mandela and his family on the death of Makgatho Mandela.

The thoughts and prayers of the leadership and membership of the ANC are 
with the Mandela family at this time of grief and
loss. As they mourn the loss of Makgatho, we hope that they may draw 
comfort from the support and wishes of all South

Issued by:
African National Congress
PO Box 61884 Marshalltown 2107
6 January 2005
More information: Smuts Ngonyama 082 569 2061

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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