Mandela remains hospitalized as South Africa prays for him

Former South African President Nelson Mandela remained hospitalized for the third straight day Monday, as he battles health problems stemming from a lung infection.

Mandela has been hospitalized since 1:30 a.m. Saturday, when he was taken to a Pretoria hospital after doctors at his home felt he needed more critical care.

Mac Maharaj, spokesman for South African President Jacob Zuma, said Monday morning that Mandela remains in serious but stable condition.

“Former president Nelson Mandela remains in hospital, and his condition is unchanged. He was admitted for treatment in a Pretoria hospital for a lung infection. And President Jacob Zuma calls upon all in South Africa and abroad to pray for Madiba and the family during this time,” said Maharaj. Madiba is a nickname for Mandela based on the name for his Xhosa tribe.

This is Mandela’s fourth hospital admission since December. The Nobel Peace laureate has suffered from lung problems since he was diagnosed with tuberculosis during his 27-year imprisonment on Robben Island for fighting apartheid.

Monday morning, the South African newspaper The Star reported that the Mandela family is limiting visitors to just family, barring South African political leaders.

Maharaj said those reports are untrue.

“Those reports are, have got an unnecessary twist to it and are incorrect,” he said. “We will appreciate that any patient under treatment under the normal rules that apply when a patient is receiving intensive care, from the medical side there is a restriction put on the number of people who visit him and who visits him. That is all that is operative, the normal conditions that apply when a person is under intensive care. … from our side we are avoiding too many people visiting him. We are making sure that only those who are very close to him, who would help to create a conducive atmosphere/environment for him to recover maximally, to be able to go to him.”

Mandela was visited by President Zuma and other members of the African National Congress Party in April.  In a video of that visit, Mandela looked frail and unresponsive.

Andrew Mlangeni, a friend of Mr. Mandela’s who was imprisoned with him on Robben Island, told South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper that it is time to let him go, and that the family should release him.

Mandela, who is to turn 95 next month, was visited by family Sunday and Monday morning.

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