Frail Nelson Mandela (93) admitted to hospital
Published 25/02/2012 | 12:24
FORMER South African leader Nelson Mandela, (93), was admitted to hospital today after doctors advised specialist medical attention for a long-standing abdominal complaint.
South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement: "Former president Nelson Mandela was admitted to hospital today, the 25th February 2012."
"Madiba has had a long-standing abdominal complaint and doctors feel it needs proper specialist medical attention."
The health of the increasingly frail anti-apartheid icon, who is affectionately known as Madiba, sparked national fears after he was taken to hospital early last year for an acute respiratory infection.
A medical source told The Daily Telegraph the most likely ailments were an ulcer, colitis or a hernia.
There have been unconfirmed reports that he underwent surgery on Friday night for a hernia and is now in a stable condition.
Reporters have converged outside 1 Military Hospital, a healthcare facility in the capital, Pretoria. The military in South Africa is responsible for the health care of all former presidents and Mil One - as it is locally known - is the biggest of its kind in the region.
Mac Maharaj, Presient Zuma's spokesman who spent many years imprisoned with Mr Mandela on Robben Island and helped smuggle out the manuscript of his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, said the hospital admission was pre-planned and "not a major issue".
"This is a long-standing complaint and it's not as if he has just gone in suddenly in an emergency, it has been pre-planned," he said.
He said President Zuma was waiting to see a full report from the specialists examining Mr Mandela before further information about his condition is made public.
"I spoke to President Zuma this morning and he has requested the full report before we decide what information to release," he said.
"Once the specialists are through, I will try to give an update."
Ndileka Mandela, the daughter of Mr Mandela's eldest son, Thembi, said the family was not unduly concerned. "When a person of that age is admitted to hospital for a check up, you can never know," she said.
"All of us with grandparents know that for people at the age, things can be touch and go.
"You and I can recover from a flu in two or three days but it takes them much longer because they are old and not as strong."
"Things can take a turn for the worst at any given time but for now, he is fine."
She said she last saw her grandfather on Wednesday when they celebrated her birthday at his home in the upmarket suburb of Houghton in Johannesburg.
"He is in good spirits," she said. "He was teasing me about how old I was."
She said that Mr Mandela was strong enough to withstand most ailments.
"He rebounded last year when he was admitted," she said. "Madiba is very strong and very determined.
"He fought on then, he soldiered on and to use a medical term, he built up his reserves. Whatever happens, he should be able to fight it."
Mr Mandela last appeared in public at the final of the football World Cup hosted by South Africa in July 2010.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, a year before he was elected the country's first black president in South Africa's first all-race vote and served one term before stepping down in 1999.