Bob Mabena puts his foot in it

31 December 2011 - 02:19 By SANTHAM PILLAY
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Bob Mabena.
Bob Mabena.

WHEN radio DJ Bob Mabena saw the news on Friday that former president Nelson Mandela was in hospital, he immediately took to social networking site Twitter to share the information.

But, in his haste, Mabena failed to spot that the news report formed part of a 2011 year-in-review package and referred to Mandela's admission to Johannesburg's Milpark Hospital in January 2011 for respiratory problems.

Mabena quickly apologised when his error was pointed out, and the Presidency - for good measure - moved swiftly to assure the public that Mandela, 93, was well and at home in Qunu.

"Was called in studio 2 watch eNews. Saw live visuals and tweeted. It was reruns. Stupid mistake. Shud've confirmed. Apologies," Mabena tweeted as the latest round of rumours about Mandela's health subsided.

Local and international media have been on high alert this year for news about Mandela.

Rumours about his ill health - and even death - have kept the press and broadcasters on their toes.

Just weeks before going to Milpark, Mandela shared the dubious honour of being one of two well-known personalities to be killed off on Twitter. The other was teen pop sensation Justin Bieber.

Then, in September, after Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, had foot surgery, fresh concerns were raised, which also proved to be off the mark.

This prompted Mandela's aide, Zelda la Grange, to urge Twitter users to cease their rumour-mongering.

Since Mandela relocated to his Eastern Cape home in Qunu in May, visitors have remarked on his apparently improved welfare.

Pictures seen by the Sunday Times seem to show Mandela in a responsive mood, flashing his trademark smile.

Such is the pressure on the media to be ready for his inevitable death that two international news services, Associated Press and Reuters, installed cameras on a neighbouring property to capture every moment.

Earlier this month, police removed the cameras.

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