Nelson Mandela is shown in this 2009 file photo. (Photo by
Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Nelson Mandela, South Africa's 94-year-old former
president, is "looking much better" after being treated for a
lung infection and gallstones, but will remain in hospital for
the time being, the government said today.
The country's first black president was admitted to a
Pretoria hospital on December 8 after being flown from his
home village of Qunu in a remote part of the Eastern Cape
He was treated initially for a recurrent lung infection and
then had a successful procedure to have gallstones removed.
Mandela, who came to power in historic elections in 1994
after decades struggling against apartheid, remains a symbol
of resistance to racism and injustice at home and around the
Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj said he had visited Mandela
on Tuesday. "He is looking much better," he said in a
statement, adding that the Nobel Peace laureate had spoken to
Doctors were satisfied with his progress, Maharaj said.
"They say there is no crisis, but add that they are in no
hurry to send him home just yet."
Maharaj said that, given his advanced age, Mandela needed
"extraordinary care". "If he spends more days in hospital, it
is because that necessary care is being provided," he added.
He said Mandela would remain in hospital until doctors were
"satisfied that he has made sufficient progress".
Reporting their conversation, Maharaj said Mandela asked him:
"'Mac, what are you doing here?"
"I asked him not to give doctors any trouble," he added.
Mandela spent 27 years in apartheid prisons, including 18
years on the windswept Robben Island off Cape Town.
He was released in 1990 and went on to use his prestige to
push for reconciliation between whites and blacks as the
bedrock of the post-apartheid "Rainbow Nation".
He stepped down in 1999 after one term in office and has been
largely removed from public life for the last decade.
Mandela spent time in a Johannesburg hospital in 2011 with a
respiratory condition, and again in February this year
because of abdominal pains. He was released the following day
after a keyhole examination showed there was nothing serious.
He has since spent most of his time in Qunu.
His fragile health prevents him from making any public
appearances in South Africa, although he has continued to
receive high-profile domestic and international visitors,
including former US president Bill Clinton in July.