Mandela in ‘serious’ condition in hospital

Former South African president Nelson Mandela looks on as he celebrates his birthday at his house in Qunu, Eastern Cape Credit: Reuters
Former South African president Nelson Mandela looks on as he celebrates his birthday at his house in Qunu, Eastern Cape
Credit: Reuters

Former South African president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela was in a “serious but stable” condition on Saturday after being taken to hospital with a recurrence of a lung infection, the government said.

The 94-year-old, who became the first black leader of Africa’s biggest economy in 1994 after historic all-race elections, has been in hospital three times since December. He has been battling the infection for a few days, the government said in a statement.

“This morning at about 1:30 a.m. (2330 GMT) his condition deteriorated and he was transferred to a Pretoria hospital. He remains in a serious but stable condition,” it said.

The government’s choice of words, in particular the use of “serious”, was clear cause for concern to South Africa’s 53 million people, for whom Mandela remains a potent symbol of the struggle against decades of white-minority rule.

“It’s such painful news but I pray for him that he can get better and better and better as he is the best man in this country,” said Pretoria resident Khodani Mulwena.

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said he was optimistic about the health of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

“What I am told by doctors is that he is breathing on his own and I think that is a positive sign,” he said. “Madiba is a fighter and at his age, as long as he is fighting he will be fine,” Maharaj said, referring to Mandela by his clan name.

Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, accompanied him to the hospital, the South African Press Association reported. Machel had been scheduled to speak on Saturday at a conference on hunger in London but canceled the engagement, SAPA reported.

Mandela stepped down as president in 1999 after one term in office and has been removed from politics for a decade. His last appearance in public was at the final of the soccer World Cup in Johannesburg in 2010.

He appeared in a brief television clip aired by state television in April during a visit to his home by President Jacob Zuma.

At the time, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) assured the public Mandela was “in good shape”, although the footage showed a thin and frail old man sitting expressionless in an armchair with his head propped against a pillow.

“TOO MUCH A SAINT”

Since his withdrawal from public life, he has divided his time between his plush Johannesburg home and Qunu, the village in the impoverished Eastern Cape province where he was born and spent his early years.

Mandela spent nearly three weeks in hospital in December with a lung infection and after surgery to remove gallstones.

That was his longest stay in hospital since his release from prison in 1990 after serving almost three decades behind bars or on the Robben Island prison camp near Cape Town for conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government.

His history of lung problems dates back to his years on Robben Island, where he contracted tuberculosis.

Although he remains widely revered, Mandela is not without detractors at home and in the rest of Africa who feel he made too many concessions to whites, who make up just 10 percent of the population, in the post-apartheid settlement.

Despite more than 10 years of affirmative action policies aimed at redressing the balance, South Africa remains one of the world’s most unequal societies with whites still controlling much of the economy.

On average a white household earns six times more than a black one.

“Mandela has gone a bit too far in doing good to the non-black communities, really in some cases at the expense of (blacks),” Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, 89, said in a documentary aired on South African television this month.

“That’s being too saintly, too good, too much of a saint.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.