Nelson Mandela 'doing well' in hospital but South Africa remains concerned

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Mandela had been admitted to a Pretoria hospital for medical tests and care that was 'consistent for his age'

Former South Africa president Nelson Mandela is “doing very, very well” while undergoing unspecified medical tests at a military hospital, the nation's defence minister has said.

Government officials in charge of releasing information about Mandela have repeatedly declined to provide specifics about Mandela's now three-day hospitalization, calling on citizens to respect the beloved politician's privacy. Yet Mandela represents something more than a man to many in this nation of 50 million people and to the world at large, and the longer he remains in hospital care, the louder the demand for details about the private details of his health will grow. 

"He symbolizes what our country can achieve with a statesman of his stature. He's our inspiration and personifies our aspirations," an editorial in Monday's edition of the Sowetan newspaper reads. "And that's why we dread his hospital visits, routine or not. That's why even now when we are told not to panic, we do." 

Mandela is revered for being a leader of the struggle against racist white rule in South Africa and for preaching reconciliation once he emerged from prison in 1990 after 27 years behind bars. He won South Africa's first truly democratic elections in 1994, serving one five-year term. The Nobel laureate later retired from public life to live in his remote village of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, and last made a public appearance when his country hosted the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament. 

On Saturday, President Jacob Zuma's office announced Mandela had been admitted to a Pretoria hospital for medical tests and for care that was "consistent for his age." Zuma visitedMandela on Sunday and found the former leader to be "comfortable and in good care," presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement. 

Such is the level of confidentiality surrounding Mandela's hospitalization that it wasn't until Monday that the public received government confirmation that he was being treated at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria, the capital. That word came from Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who visited the aging leader there. Speaking to journalists afterward, Mapisa-Nqakula said Mandela was "undergoing a series of tests to determine what is going on in his body." She said Mandela's release date would be determined by the result of those tests. 

"He's doing very, very well," Mapisa-Nqakula said. "And it is important to keep him in our prayers and also to be as calm as possible and not cause a state of panic because I think that is not what all of us need." 

The presidency later issued a statement Monday saying Mandela "had a good night's rest" and would have more tests done. 

"He is in good hands," Maharaj said in the statement. 

Mandela has had a series of health problems in his life. He contracted tuberculosis during his years in prison and had surgery for an enlarged prostate gland in 1985. In 2001, Mandelaunderwent seven weeks of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, ultimately beating the disease. 

In February, Mandela spent a night in a hospital for a minor diagnostic surgery to determine the cause of an abdominal complaint. In January 2011, Mandela was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital for what officials initially described as tests but what turned out to be an acute respiratory infection. 

The chaos that followed Mandela's stay at that public hospital, with journalists and the curious surrounding it and entering wards, saw the South African military take over his care and the government control the information about his health. That has brought many to complain about the lack of concrete details released about Mandela's condition in the last three days.

Much of that frustration comes from people's feelings that Mandela is more than a man or a national politician, said Frans Cronje, the deputy chief executive of the South African Institute of Race Relations. 

"Mandela is what people like to remember about South Africa's transition. It's what they like to remember about the country," Cronje said. "As we get confronted with more evidence of large-scale corruption ... I think there are people who look to Mandela as an example and say, 'We were better than this once."' 

Mandela, however, disengaged himself with the country's politics fairly successfully over the last decade. But he remains almost a talisman for racial reconciliation, with one artist in India feeling so strongly about Mandela's health that he sculpted his face out of sand on a beach on Sunday in the town of Puri. Near the face, he wrote out in sand: "Get well soon." 

That's a wish that's been repeatedly broadcast across television and radio stations in South Africa, printed in newspaper headlines and whispered as prayers in recent days for the increasingly frail icon.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor