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Mandela on the mend, says Zuma

FORMER South African president Nelson Mandela is seeing sustained improvement from the recurring lung infection that forced him to spend a ninth day in the hospital yesterday.

President Jacob Zuma said Mandela (inset) remains in serious condition but that over the past two days his doctors have said improvements in his health have been sustained.

Zuma said Mandela "continues to engage with family".

Mandela's hospitalisation in Pretoria, the capital, is his fourth admittance for treatment since December.

Zuma asked the audience at a Youth Day celebration to join him in wishing Mandela a happy Father's Day. Youth Day commemorates June 16, 1976, when children from the township of Soweto marched in protest at a government order that half of all classes in secondary school be taught in Afrikaans.

Police fired on the marchers with live ammunition. Hector Pieterson, a 13-year-old boy, was the first one killed. In all, hundreds of children – who fought the police with sticks and rocks – were wounded or killed.

Mandela has been particularly vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis on Robben Island.