South African presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj, a close friend and former fellow inmate of the ailing Nelson Mandela, spent most of the week blasting journalists whom he says have been wrong and unethical in reports of Mandela’s condition.
Late Wednesday, CNN and several other outlets, citing a confidential source, began reporting the 94-year-old Mandela was on life support. Officially, he remains hospitalized and in critical but stable condition for a recurring lung infection.
“I’m not going into any detail by confirming or denying,” Maharaj said, according to the New York Times. “And I’m not going to get into an argument with an unnamed source.”
Maharaj says reporters were unethically contacting doctors, violating patient confidentiality and getting the story flat-out wrong.
Speculation over Mandela’s worsening condition intensified on Wednesday, after President Jacob Zuma canceled his Thursday trip to Mozambique. President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to South Africa this weekend has also fueled interest in Mandela’s health.