Nelson Mandela latest: Former South African President 'responding to treatment' after returning to hospital with lung infection

Zuma calls on public  ‘not to panic’ as former South African president, 94, is taken to hospital

Former South African President Nelson Mandela was tonight said to be responding positively to treatment after being hospitalised with a lung infection for the third time in two years. The former South African president, who is 94 years old, was taken in soon after midnight on Wednesday.

Jacob Zuma, Mr Mandela’s successor as both President and leader of the ANC, told the BBC that Mr Mandela was doing very well and called on his people “not to panic”. “Madiba [Mr Mandela’s clan name] is no longer that young,” Mr Zuma said. “If he goes for check-ups every now and again, I don’t think people must be alarmed about it.”

Concern for Mr Mandela was palpable on the streets of Johannesburg, but people seem to have heeded Mr Zuma’s advice. “He’s getting old, and quite naturally, he’s going to pass away,” said 21-year-old student Maleho Makgothi. “He’s done his bit for the country. He’s done his service, he looks a bit frail now, people should let him be.”

“I think that people are really getting scared,” fellow student Aryna de Klerk said. “Each time he’s hospitalised it gets more serious. A lung infection isn’t something you recover from quickly, and people are realising he’s soon going to be gone.”

Mr Mandela – who contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s during his incarceration on Robben Island – has been hospitalised with increasing frequency in recent years. He suffered his first lung infection in January 2011, while last Christmas he underwent treatment in Pretoria for 18 days over Christmas after yet another infection. He also had gallstones removed.

Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for Mr Zuma, said earlier in the day: “We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and his family and to keep them in their thoughts. We have full confidence in the medical team and know that they will do everything possible to ensure recovery.

His doctors were “ensuring that he has the best possible expert medical treatment and comfort”, he added.

“I will pray for him tonight,” said Ephraim Chauke, a security guard, in Johannesburg. “I’m worried about him. He’s sick. And he did a lot for this country. Things might change – people might change – after he is gone.”

Mr Mandela served as South Africa’s first black president from 1994 to 1999, after spending 27 years in prison for defying the Apartheid regime.

He has not been seen in public since the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In the photographs and footage released annually on his birthday, Mr Mandela has always appeared to be in good spirits – but increasingly, as each year passes, frail.

The government refused to divulge the medical facility where Mr Mandela is being attended to, for fear of causing further anxiety.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living