Former South African president Nelson Mandela was in good spirits while recovering from lung infection at a Pretorial hospital, the South African Presidency said yesterday.
The 94-year-old was admitted to hospital on Wednesday at midnight due to recurrence of lung infection. It said Mandela had developed a pleural effusion — excess fluid in the lungs which had been drained to enable him to breathe more easily. There are no details yet on how long he will remain in hospital.
“Mandela enjoyed a full breakfast this morning, and the doctor reported that he is making steady progress,” President Jacob Zuma’s office stated, adding that Mandela “remains under treatment and observation.”
On Thursday, US President Barack Obama said he was “deeply concerned with Nelson Mandela’s health,” adding that “we will be keeping him in our thoughts and prayers.”
Zuma earlier stressed that Mandela had been able to handle the situation “very well” so far. “Very few outstanding personalities in the world live to his level.”
In the prison quarry
Mandela has a history of lung problems after suffering from tuberculosis towards the end of his 27-year term for national liberation movement. He first contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while detained on windswept Robben Island. His lungs are said to have been damaged while working in a prison quarry.
This latest spell in hospital is his fourth in just over two years. He became the first democratically-elected president of South Africa in 1994 following the end of apartheid.
Mandela retired from public life in 2004. Despite his long imprisonment, he forgave his former enemies and as president urged South Africans of all races to work together and seek reconciliation. In 1993, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Support for Madiba
The statement also said the Presidency “would like to acknowledge and thank all who have been praying for, and sending messages of support for, Madiba — Mandela’s clan name — and his family.” Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela also told the media that he was doing well. “He’s responding very
well to treatment,” she said.