By Nangayi Guyson – Johannesburg – As former president Nelson Mandela spent his second night in Milpark Hospital, neighbouring school McAuley House continued to put up messages of support for him on Friday.
Schoolchildren cut out their hand prints on pieces of paper for Mandela, who was admitted to the Johannesburg hospital on Wednesday afternoon.
“Dearest President Mandela you are forever an inspiration to us all, thank you for our dignity,” was written on one print.
“Madiba I am so sorry you are sick I wish you can get better,” read another.
“Dear Nelson Mandela I love you so much I wish you can get better soon.”
The message on a yellow, green, pink and white poster read: “The children of South Africa love you”.
On Friday morning teachers at McAuley House put up more posters.
Grade 4 teacher Deirdre Axford said: “All the children in the primary school did this yesterday.
“They are very much aware of what’s going on. They are all aware of him and learn about him in class. They are worried about him.
“The little ones were hoping he would visit them, but we had to explain that when you are in hospital you have to go home after.”
One child approached the Sapa journalists and asked: “Where are the news people I want to be in the news.” The messages were tied to a palisade fence around the school.
‘We love you’
Schoolchildren spoke about their feelings for Mandela. Gugu Sihlali, Grade 6J, said, “It’s very sad because Madiba brought us here today. He spent 27 years in prison for us. Being happy that there are journalists so we can be on TV is not right. We must be more worried about Madiba.”
Keabetswe Seleso, Grade 6J, said: “I started learning about Madiba when I was two from my granny. She said Madiba fought for them and went to jail for us ’cause there were people fighting everywhere for peace. I wish he will get well soon. The world will be torn without him.”
Kamogeio Ramela, also Grade 6J, said: “I’d like to say to Mandela, we wish you well. We know you had a hard life in jail fighting for us. We love you. Just get well, you’re like our father.”
The South African liberation hero – known affectionately among South Africans by his clan name, Madiba – has appeared increasingly frail on his infrequent public appearances since retiring from public life in 2004.
His last public appearance was at the football World Cup closing ceremony last July.
Local school children urged Mr Mandela to get well soon
South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu told reporters on Thursday that Mr Mandela was “frail” when he saw him last week, the Sapa news agency reported.
“He was all right, I mean, he’s 92, you know.
“What more do we want from him? We want him to remain forever, but you know… anything can happen.”
Privately Mr Mandela’s friends have warned that his health has begun to deteriorate more rapidly in recent months, says the BBC’s Andrew Harding in Johannesburg.
Media speculation about his health is increasingly frenzied.
Police are checking visitors’ cars at the hospital entrance to make sure there are no journalists hiding inside.
Journalists’ cars were lining the streets and snarling up the traffic, prompting irate outbursts from other drivers, reports said.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Nelson Mandela Foundation insisted Mr Mandela was “in no danger and is in good spirits”.
It said he was undergoing routine tests, though South African media report he is being seen by a lung specialist.
African National Congress spokesman Jackson Mthembu said on Thursday urged “people not to make unfounded statements, let’s remain calm and not press panic buttons because there is no reason to do so”.
Earlier this month, a report circulated on social network Twitter that the elder statesman had died. It was condemned as malicious and insensitive by the ANC.