Nelson Mandela leaves hospital for care at home

South African officials said former president Nelson Mandela has been released from a Pretoria hospital and will recover at his Johannesburg area home. The 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon spent 18 days in the hospital for a lung infection and gallstones.

A spokesman for the presidency said Mandela’s longest hospital stay in decades came to an end late Wednesday.

Spokesman Mac Maharaj said Thursday doctors felt they needed to keep the former president in the hospital for 18 days before releasing him to his home in Johannesburg’s Houghton suburb late Wednesday.

He was admitted to the Pretoria hospital Dec. 8, and officials said then it was for routine tests. They later said he had been diagnosed with a lung infection.

Days later spokesman Maharaj said Mandela was also operated on for gallstones.

This was Mandela’s second hospitalization this year.

In February, he was hospitalized for a long-standing stomach ailment. He also tested positive for tuberculosis in 1988, during his 27-year imprisonment for fighting racist white rule.

Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, after his release from prison. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his role in ending the racist apartheid system.

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