Nelson Mandela’s Only Son Dies of AIDS

Nelson Mandela’s only son dies of AIDS (Times of London)

Nelson Mandela’s only surviving son has died in hospital in South Africa after a battle with AIDS. Makgatho Mandela, 54, was admitted to Linksfield Park clinic in Johannesburg late last year in a critical condition. His father, the former South Africa president, has cancelled several engagements in the past month to stay close to his ailing son.

The death is expected to come as a huge blow to the 86-year-old statesman, who has suffered a string of personal losses. Mr Mandela’s other son, Madiba Thembekile, was killed in a car crash in 1969 while the future president was serving 27 years in prison for trying to end white rule in South Africa. The apartheid government banned him from attending the funeral.

Mr Mandela wrote of Madiba’s death in his book, Long Walk to Freedom: “What can one say about such a tragedy? I do not have words to express the sorrow, or the loss I felt. It left a hole in my heart that can never be filled.” In May 2003, Mr Mandela led South Africa in mourning for his African National Congress comrade Walter Sisulu, whose death at the age of 90 left Mr Mandela virtually isolated as the last of his generation of freedom fighters turned politicians. In July Makgatho’s wife, Zondi, died of pneumonia. In a further bereavement in the same year, the statesman attended the funeral of his first wife, Evelyn Mase, the mother of Makgatho and Madiba, and of two daughters – one of whom died in 1948 before she was a year old.

Recently Mr Mandela has looked frail in his public appearances. Officially he retired from public life last year, but has kept up a busy schedule promoting his various causes, including the fight against Africa’s devastating Aids epidemic. More than 10 per cent of South Africans have the virus. The Mandela family refused to reveal the cause of Makgatho’s illness, saying it was a private matter. The fact that he had been suffering from AIDS was revealed at a press conference this afternoon.

Truly a shame.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Under Mandela, the health care system in South Africa collapsed under mismanagement and cronyism. And those that rail against Bush for faith-based initiatives and abstinence-only programms would have a heart attack over what unscientific madness was promulgated under Mandela’s reign.

    This death is somewhere between Greek Tragedy and chickens coming home to roost.

  2. Bithead says:

    I’m with Simon on this one.
    But I’ll bet it won’t stop anyone from blaming it on the US, and specificly, Mr. Bush.

  3. Joejr says:

    Grow up and be adults.