Nelson Mandela breathing unaided but remains in 'serious, stable' condition in hospital with lung infection

 

Former South African President Nelson Mandela is breathing unaided but remains in a “serious but stable” condition after being taken to a hospital to be treated for a recurring lung infection.

Mandela, who is 94 years old, was treated in a hospital several times in recent months, with the last discharge coming on April 6 after doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia and drained fluid from his lung area. He has been particularly vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis during his 27-year imprisonment under apartheid.

A small girl and her father stood outside Mandela's Johannesburg home with a stone on which was written a get-well message for Mandela, who helped end white racist rule and became the country's first black president in all-race elections in 1994. A young boy brought a bouquet of flowers that he handed over to guards at the house.

Elsewhere in the city, some worshippers prayed for Mandela during an outdoor gathering.

“If the time comes, we wish for him a good way to go,” said Noel Ngwenya, a security officer who was in the congregation.

“During the past few days, former President Nelson Mandela has had a recurrence of lung infection,” said a statement from the office of President Jacob Zuma. “This morning at about 1:30 a.m., his condition deteriorated and he was transferred to a Pretoria hospital.”

It said Mandela was receiving expert medical care and “doctors are doing everything possible to make him better and comfortable.”

Zuma wished Mandela a quick recovery on behalf of the government and the nation and requested that the media and the public respect the privacy of the former leader and his family, the statement said.

Mandela's wife, humanitarian activist Graca Machel, cancelled an appearance at an international forum on hunger and nutrition in London yesterday, citing “personal reasons,” said Colleen Harris, a spokeswoman for the meeting.

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said Machel had cancelled her attendance at the London meeting on Thursday, and had accompanied Mandela to the hospital on yesterday morning, the South African Press Association reported.

“We need to hold our thoughts and keep him in our minds,” Maharaj said. “He is a fighter, he has recovered many times from very serious conditions and he will be with us. Let's pray for him and help him to get better.”

The African National Congress, the ruling party that has dominated politics in South Africa since the end of apartheid, said it hoped Mandela, known affectionately by his clan name Madiba, would get better soon.

“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 for our beloved statesman and icon, Madiba,” the party said in a statement.

On April 29, state television broadcast footage of a visit by Zuma and other ANC leaders to Mandela at his Johannesburg home. Zuma said at the time that Mandela was in good shape, but the footage - the first public images of Mandela in nearly a year - showed him silent and unresponsive, even when Zuma tried to hold his hand.

“Nelson Mandela is a father to South Africa and South Africans; every time he is admitted to hospital we feel saddened along with the rest of our country,” the Democratic Alliance, the main political opposition party, said in a statement.

South Africans expressed hope that Mandela would recover from his latest setback.

“He is going to survive,” said Willie Mokoena, a gardener in Johannesburg. “He's a strong man.”

Another city resident, Martha Mawela, said she thought the former president would recover because: “Everybody loves Mandela.”

Mandela was robust during his decades as a public figure, endowed with charisma, a powerful memory and an extraordinary talent for articulating the aspirations of his people and winning over many of those who opposed him.

In recent years, however, he has become more frail and last made a public appearance at the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament, where he didn't deliver an address and was bundled against the cold.

In another recent hospitalization, Mandela was treated for a lung infection and had a procedure to remove gallstones in December. In March, he spent a night in a hospital for what authorities said was a scheduled medical test.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Buyer / Planner

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity has ar...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager

£40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity working ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Journals Manager

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The prime focus of the role is to assist...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks