Top SA professor in Mandela 'death wish' storm

PRETORIA - University of the Free State vice-chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen this morning dismissed a report quoting him as saying he wished former South African President Nelson Mandela would die.

“I truly wish Madiba would live forever. I also wish some journalists would have more ethics before completely distorting a message,” he tweeted this morning.

A user on social media website Twitter sent Jansen a tweet, saying: “I’m assuming the ‘report’ about you wishing Mandela would die is garbage? What the papers will do to grab a headline is scary.”

Jansen responded by saying it was “absolute garbage”.

His spokesperson, Lacea Loader, said a statement addressing the matter would be issued later today.

Beeld newspaper reported on Jansen’s comments during a leadership summit at the campus yesterday.

“Don’t you also wish he (Madiba) would die?” Jansen reportedly asked a group of about 250 students.

Beeld reported that the students were noticeably shocked when they heard the question.

“Every time we hear he’s in hospital, everyone thinks, this is it, he’s going to die this time. Big Mac (Maharaj, presidential spokesperson) is lying when he says Madiba is in for check-ups. When you are 94, you go to hospital to die; not for routine tests,” Jansen said.

Approached for comment yesterday evening, Loader told Beeld he meant to say that former president Nelson Mandela should be left to die in peace.

Mandela was discharged on Saturday after being admitted to a Pretoria hospital on March 27 to receive treatment for a lung condition.

Beeld reported that Maharaj was angry when asked for comment.

“I’ll think about it carefully. I need to give the matter careful consideration before I comment,” said Maharaj. — Sapa

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