Mandela remains hospitalised as Easter begins

29 March 2013 - 12:24
By Sapa
Former president Nelson Mandela
Former president Nelson Mandela

South Africans entered the Easter weekend on edge as former president Nelson Mandela remained hospitalised.

On Friday morning, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said the official update from the previous day stood.

In that update, it said that Mandela was "responding positively" to treatment for a recurring lung infection which has resulted in his re-admission to hospital.

"The doctors advise that former president Nelson Mandela is responding positively to the treatment he is undergoing for a recurring lung infection," presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

"He remains under treatment and observation in hospital."

On Thursday, SA president Jacob Zuma told BBC news that people needed to "slow down the anxiety".

"In Zulu, when someone passes away who is very old, people say he or she has gone home. I think those are some of the things we should be thinking about," the news service quoted him as saying.

Also on Thursday, US President Barack Obama sent thoughts and prayers to Madiba.

Obama "has found president Mandela to be an inspiration in his own personal life, but also in his professional career," his spokesman Josh Earnest said.

On Friday, tweets poured in from across the world in a variety of languages including Turkish, Spanish, German, French, Arabic and Portuguese.

US singer Josh Groban tweeted that he was sending his love to Mandela.

"I hope he feels better soon. The world needs him as long as we can have him. #madiba"

Marzia Faraz from Afghanistan also tweeted a message of support.

"How fortunate we are to live in #mandela era! One of world's notable peacemaker. Hope you feel better soon."

Anti-apartheid activist Frank Chikane tweeted a call for prayers for Madiba.

"As we enter the Easter weekend we should dedicate our prayers for Tata Mandela for his speedy recovery."

SA icon Evita Bezuidenhout tweeted a promise to supply Mandela with chocolate. "May this be a Good Friday for everyone, especially our beloved Madiba. Your Easter egg is waiting for you, liewe ou skat (dear old sweetheart) XXX".

Earlier this month, Mandela was admitted to a Pretoria hospital for a scheduled check-up relating to a long-standing abdominal complaint. He was discharged the following day.

In February, he was admitted to hospital with a stomach ailment.

In December, Mandela spent 18 days in hospital during which he underwent an operation to remove gallstones and received treatment for his recurring lung infection.

Before that Mandela was last was taken to hospital in January 2011, when he was admitted to Milpark Hospital for routine tests relating to respiratory problems.

Mandela's last major public appearance was in July 2010, at the final of the Fifa World Cup at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg.

Since then he has spent his time between Johannesburg and his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

South Africa's first black president has a long history of lung problems, dating back to the time when he was a political prisoner on Robben Island during apartheid. While in jail he contracted tuberculosis.