Every time there is a rumour or speculation about Nelson Mandela’s health, South Africa is on edge.
Ordinary South Africans who genuinely love and respect Madiba, worry, those who don’t really care much about the man watch quietly to see how he is doing, and journalists usually panic.
It is hours of phone calls to colleagues in the industry and reading online reports trying to verify the latest health scare.
We know to be suspicious of facebook and twitter posts. Some people get a little too excited posting their opinions. It’s amazing how a rumour quickly becomes fact in social media – everyone suddenly thinks they are journalists.
The South African government has always insisted Mandela was doing fine for his age. So far, they have been right. He has been in and out of hospital for years.
But there is always that ‘you never know’ feeling. Could they be hiding something, trying to manage and avoid panic? This is the journalist in me talking.
Here is what we know – Madiba is in his 90’s and naturally he is frail. He will be in and out of hospital more frequently. It’s the second time this year he has been hospitalised. The last time was in February.
But let’s not hurry him to his grave. There is no need for frantic social media posts if you are not absolutely sure what you are talking about. As far as I know, there is no special award for being the first person to announce his death.
Truth is, unless you are a very close family member or a very senior government official, you will only know for certain of Mandela’s passing away when the official announcement is made.
It will probably be a broadcast on state media by the president. I am sure many people around the world are hoping that doesn’t happen anytime soon.