Mandela discharged from hospital

Former South African President Nelson Mandela was whisked home Friday from a hospital where the 92-year-old had been treated for a respiratory infection, with only a glimpse of his head covered by a surgical cap visible as he was wheeled into an ambulance.

That brief view could symbolize Mandela's increasing disengagement from public life. South Africans expressed joy Friday that he is recovering but there was also wistful realization that an icon is fading. Officials said Mandela now would be cared for in hospital-like conditions at home.



"Everyone was holding their hearts and saying not now," said Patricia Ramaila, who has lived across the street from Mandela for four years. "A person like Mr. Mandela — we still need him."



Mandela, who became South Africa's first black president after serving 27 years in prison for his fight against racist rule, largely retired from public life in 2004. He has made even fewer appearances in recent years while others like retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu have increasingly taken on the role of South Africa's national conscience.



Army Surgeon-General Vejaynand Ramlakan said Friday that Mandela's condition was stable, and that he takes medication for a chronic, unnamed condition and needs help to walk. Officials said he was joking with his wife and nurses, and in good spirits.



"Despite all of this, his amazing positive attitude allows him to cope with the difficulties of old age with the greatest of grace," Ramlakan said.



Mandela himself has pushed his fellow South Africans to think beyond him. At his insistence, his foundation switched from a logo featuring his face to one featuring his hands, reflecting his desire to shift the focus from himself.



When he reached 91, his July 18 birthday was declared Mandela Day, and he urged people to observe it by painting schools, reading to the elderly and taking on other tasks to build their communities.



"It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it," Mandela said then.



A dearth of updates since Mandela was admitted Wednesday afternoon had led to speculation and concern about his condition. Journalists camped outside the hospital and his Johannesburg home. Officials said Friday that Mandela's office has received more than 10,000 messages of support and well wishes, including from U.S. President Barack Obama.



Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who is in charge while President Jacob Zuma is traveling abroad, said communications should have been better.



"Madiba has received similar checkups in the past and it's never raised the same public panic it has now," Motlanthe said, explaining why officials had not been prepared. South Africans affectionately call the 92-year-old Madiba, his clan's name.



The army surgeon-general told reporters that Mandela's respiratory infection was acute, but that he was being sent home after about 48 hours at Johannesburg's Milpark Hospital. The army is charged with the care of former presidents in South Africa.



Mandela also had a respiratory infection eight years ago and also had contracted tuberculosis in 1988 while in prison, Ramlakan said. Mandela has written in his memoirs that the bout of TB did not damage his lungs. In 1985, Mandela also had surgery for an enlarged prostate gland.



Ramlakan would not say whether Mandela's most recent infection was in the upper or lower regions of his respiratory tract.



Acute respiratory infections refer to a range of diseases that could include the common cold, flu, strep throat or bronchitis, among other illnesses. Treatment generally lasts seven to 10 days.



An infection of the lower respiratory tract could signal pneumonia, which could require greater care. Many elderly patients with pneumonia are often treated at home with oral antibiotics, fluids, and possibly steroid drugs to reduce inflammation in the lungs.



Mandela was released in 1990 after 27 years in prison for his fight against apartheid. He became South Africa's first black president in 1994 and stepped down after serving one term in 1999.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test