Former South African President Nelson Mandela remained in hospital for a second day for treatment of a lung infection after being admitted yesterday for a fourth time since December.
There was “no update” on Mandela’s condition, Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for President Jacob Zuma, said in a text message in response to questions from Bloomberg News today. He didn’t return calls or respond to text messages after telling the BBC later that doctors would report on Mandela’s condition after examining him at midday.
Mandela, 94, was admitted to a Pretoria hospital in a “serious but stable” condition after suffering a recurrence of a lung infection, Maharaj said yesterday. He was treated in the hospital in April for pneumonia and had to have fluid drained from around his lungs. He also had gallstones removed this year.
Mandela served for five years as South Africa’s first black president after his African National Congress party won all-race elections that ended apartheid in 1994. He spent 27 years in prison, most of it on Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, where he contracted tuberculosis. Also known by his clan name, Madiba, Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Andrew Mlangeni, a friend of Mandela who spent time with him in prison on Robben Island, called on his family to “release” him, the Sunday Times reported today. Mlangeni said Mandela was “quite clearly” not well and may not recover, the Johannesburg-based newspaper reported.
The infection “affects his breathing,” Maharaj said by telephone yesterday. “The doctors are saying it’s serious but he’s stable. He’s able to breathe on his own.”
The condition is “treatable on its own,” Maharaj told eNCA television yesterday. He was conscious and communicating with his family, the spokesman told Sky News. His wife, Graca Machel, was at his bedside, Agence France-Presse said, citing Maharaj.
The ANC and its political allies, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, as well as the opposition Democratic Alliance were among those wishing Mandela a speedy recovery.
“We will keep President Mandela and his family in our thoughts and prayers at this time and call upon South Africans and the peoples of the globe to do the same,” Jackson Mthembu, an ANC spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
Machel canceled an appearance at a London summit on hunger yesterday to return to South Africa, the Press Association reported, citing the event’s organizers. She accompanied Mandela to the hospital yesterday and stayed at his bedside, Maharaj told AFP.
In an April interview, Zuma said Mandela had been “sprightly” when he’d seen him in the hospital that month.
“He is a good fighter. He is actually demonstrating this in his old age,” Zuma said on April 24. “We just accept the fact that he is no longer young. We are happy that we are still with him.”