Mandela "comfortable" after night in hospital
JOHANNESBURG - Agence France-Press
banner advertising gold coins with the image of former South African President Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, Sunday Dec. 9, 2012. AP photoNelson Mandela is comfortable, after a restful night in hospital for tests, the South African government said Sunday as the leader spent his second day in hospital.
President Jacob Zuma visited the country's first black president and said he had found him "comfortable, and in good care." It was the second time the 94-year-old and increasingly frail Mandela had been hospitalised this year. While officials are trying to allay fears over his health, they are not releasing any details of his condition.
"I think he has had a restful night, the doctors are comfortable about it, they are continuing monitoring," Mac Maharaj, Zuma's spokesman and a former fellow prisoner with Mandela, told AFP.
The tests and medical attention were consistent with his age, he added.
Medical experts say there is nothing out of the ordinary for a person of Mandela's age to require in-patient attention from time to time.
"We need to understand that he is 94 years old, and that his state of health is not genuinely of a good quality, and that from time to time he is admitted to hospitals," Mark Sonderup, vice chairman of the South African Medical Association told AFP.
The anti-apartheid hero and Nobel Peace Prize laureate was flown from his home village of Qunu in the southeast of the country to a hospital in the capital Pretoria on Saturday.
The once spry boxer, who stayed fit during his 27 years in prison by doing calisthenics in his cell, has grown increasingly frail. But his stature as one of the world's most famous and loved public figures remains undimmed.
"We wish him as speedy recovery," said Ntanyongwana Mdzeki, an octogenarian neighbour of Mandela in Qunu village. "We still need him to be around because he changed our lives." Mandela's former political colleague Ahmed Kathrada, another apartheid-era prisoner, also wished Mandela a speedy recovery.
"Even in such mundane times as routine hospital visits, you allow South Africans from across the length and breadth of this country to unite in concern for you," said a statement by the Kathrada foundation.
Keith Khoza spokesman of the ruling ANC party, which Mandela once led, said the party wished him well.
"He is in perfect health," he added. "Everything is well. It's just that he has to undergo these regular check ups." Officials have refused to give more details about his condition or say in which hospital he is being treated.
Security appeared to have been beefed up however at 1 Military Hospital on the outskirts of Pretoria. Military police were searching the trunks of all the cars entering the hospital complex, according to an AFP photographer.
South Africa's military has in the past been responsible for Mandela's health.
The revered statesman has not appeared in public since South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup final in 2010.
Madiba, as he is affectionately known by South Africans, has all-but retired from public life, choosing to live in his childhood hometown of Qunu in the rural Eastern Cape.
His last hospitalisation was in February when he spent a night in hospital for a minor exploratory procedure to investigate persistent abdominal pain.
In January 2011, Mandela had the country on edge when he was admitted for two nights for an acute respiratory infection. He was discharged in a stable condition for home-based care and intense medical monitoring.
Mandela has also had prostate cancer, for which he was successfully treated in 2001. He had cataract surgery in 1994, just months after he took office as president.
After years fighting white-only rule, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the last white president, FW de Klerk, in 1993.
A year later, he crowned his long fight against minority rule by becoming the country's first black president at the end of apartheid.
The last pictures of Mandela published in the media were in August when he received a visit from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his home.