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Mandela Has Lung Infection as Wife Says He’s Losing Sparkle

A man reads a local newspaper bearing a photo of former South Africa's president Nelson Mandela, in Soweto. Photographer: AlexanderJoe/AFP/Getty Images
A man reads a local newspaper bearing a photo of former South Africa's president Nelson Mandela, in Soweto. Photographer: AlexanderJoe/AFP/Getty Images

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Nelson Mandela spent a fourth day in a Pretoria hospital receiving medical treatment for a lung infection, while his wife, Graca Machel, spoke about him losing his “sparkle.”

The 94-year-old former president was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 8 to undergo tests, which “revealed a recurrence of a previous lung infection,” South Africa’s Presidency said in an e-mailed statement today. Mandela “is responding to the treatment,” it said.

After spending 27 years in prison for fighting against white minority rule, Mandela helped negotiate a peaceful end to apartheid, taking office after the first all-race elections in 1994. He stepped down as president voluntarily in 1999.

Machel said in an interview with Johannesburg-based eNews Channel Africa that Mandela’s aging is painful to witness.

“The spirit and the sparkle, you see that somehow it’s fading,” she told the broadcaster.

Mandela underwent exploratory surgery for an abdominal complaint in February and was hospitalized a year before that for an acute respiratory infection.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tshepiso Mokhema in Johannesburg at tmokhema@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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