JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — As Nelson Mandela remains gravely ill in hospital, the Archbishop of Cape Town has joined family at his bedside to pray for a "peaceful end."
Outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, well-wishers have been streaming through to leave flowers and messages for Mandela on a makeshift wall of tribute. Groups of schoolchildren have come to sing in his honor, filmed by journalists waiting for any shred of news about South Africa's first black president and icon of the anti-apartheid struggle.
Mandela, who is to turn 95 on July 18, was visited again Wednesday by ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and daughters Zindzi and Makaziwe, along with several grandchildren. His former doctor, Dr. Vejay Ramlakan, who stepped down as South Africa's surgeon general earlier this year, was also seen arriving at the hospital.
Wife Graca Machel has remained at the hospital since Mandela was admitted in the early hours of June 8, and is reportedly sleeping in a room next to his.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba visited Mandela, known here by his clan name "Madiba," in hospital late Tuesday and prayed with Machel and other family members.
"May your arms of love, stretched wide on the cross for us," Makogba said, in a prayer he later posted on Facebook.
"Now enfold Madiba, and Graça, with compassion, comfort and the conviction that you will never forsake them but that you will grant Madiba eternal healing and relief from pain and suffering.
"And may your blessing rest upon Madiba now and always. Grant him, we pray, a quiet night and a peaceful, perfect, end.
"Mandela's condition was officially announced as critical Sunday, and President Jacob Zuma called for the nation and the world to "pray for Madiba."
“We must support him and support his family. We must demonstrate our love and appreciation for his leadership during the struggle for liberation and in our first few years of freedom and democracy by living out his legacy and promoting unity, non-racialism, non-sexism and prosperity in our country," Zuma said the latest official update on Mandela's condition.
A family meeting was held Tuesday in Qunu, Mandela's home village in the Eastern Cape, where burial plans were reportedly discussed among other matters.