Anti-apartheid icon and former South African president Nelson Mandela is in critical condition after more than two weeks in a Pretoria hospital. South Africa President Jacob Zuma made the statement Sunday night. Mandela is now 94 years old and has been suffering from a lung infection.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj says Mandela’s condition has deteriorated in the last 24 hours. He was admitted to the hospital June 8. It is his fourth hospitalization since December.
Maharaj did not give any specific details of the anti-apartheid icon’s condition, aside from classifying it as critical. Maharaj referred to Mandela by his clan name, Madiba.
“The medical team has briefed President Jacob Zuma who was accompanied by the deputy president, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, when they visited former President Mandela at his hospital on the evening of the 23rd of June. Their briefing has indicated that the former president’s condition has become critical over the past 24 hours. They have also met during that visit at the hospital Mrs. Graca Machel and discussed Madiba’s condition. Doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and ensuring he is well-looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands, says President Zuma, but he has appealed to the nation and the world to pray for Madiba, the family and the medical team that is attending to him during this difficult time,” he said.
The ANC is the African National Congress, and Ms. Machel is Mandela’s wife.
Maharaj said the man considered the father of modern South Africa was in serious, but stable condition until recently. “Over the last 24 hours, clearly there is a downturn, which is a cause for concern. And the condition that was described as serious has now deteriorated to the point where the doctors now say his condition is critical,” he said.
Mandela served as South Africa’s first black president. He was elected in 1994 after spending 27 years in prison for fighting racist white rule. He is credited with being one of the main personalities who brought apartheid to an end.
His health has worsened in recent years. He has been in and out of the hospital for much of this year, and between that has been given home-based intensive care.
He spent 18 days in a hospital in December. He also tested positive for tuberculosis in 1988, during his prison term.
Mandela retired from public life in 2004.