Mandela falls ill again

Johannesburg, June 8 (IANS) Anti-apartheid icon and South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela was hospitalised again Saturday, the third time this year, following a “recurrence of a lung infection”. His condition is said to be “serious but stable”.

“During the past few days, Mandela has had a recurrence of lung infection,” Xinhua quoted the Presidency as saying in a statement.

“This morning (Saturday) at about 01.30 a.m., his condition deteriorated and he has been transferred to a Pretoria hospital,” the Presidency said.

“He remains in a serious but stable condition, and doctors are doing everything possible to make him better,” it said.

Mandela was conscious and breathing on his own, Mac Maharaj, South Africa’s presidential spokesman, was quoted by Sky News as saying.

This is the third time the 94-year-old Mandela has been admitted to hospital this year. In March, he was hospitalised after being diagnosed with pneumonia.

Mandela suffered from tuberculosis when he was incarcerated for 27 years before the apartheid ended in 1994. His lung problem was the result of tuberculosis which developed when he was in prison.

Mandela served as president from 1994 to 1999.

Mac Maharaj told BBC that Mandela was receiving expert medical care.

Doctors were doing everything possible to make him comfortable and better, he said.

He said at least one close member of Mandela’s family was with him in hospital.

“President Jacob Zuma, on behalf of government and the nation, wishes Madiba a speedy recovery and requests the media and the public to respect the privacy of Madiba and his family,” Maharaj said.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) urged the public to respect the privacy of the former president.

“The ANC hopes and trusts that (former) president Mandela and his family will be afforded the necessary respect and privacy while he is in hospital, we have no doubt that Tata (Mandela) will continue to receive expert medical care and attention at this time,” the party said in a statement.

Mandela continues to be “a symbol of hope, of reconciliation” for South Africa, it said.

“We are certainly concerned about his health and we called on South Africans to pray for him and his family,” BBC quoted a party spokesman as saying.

Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 jointly with former president F.W. de Klerk for ending apartheid and bringing democracy to South Africa.

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