PRETORIA (Reuters) - Nelson Mandela, the 94-year-old former South African president and revered anti-apartheid leader, is to undergo more tests in hospital on Monday after having a good rest on his second night in the facility, the government said.
A statement from the office of President Jacob Zuma, who visited the Nobel Peace laureate on Sunday, gave no details other than to say, “President Mandela had a good night’s rest” and was “in good hands”. It also thanked members of the public for their messages of support.
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told reporters after paying Mandela a visit in Pretoria’s “1 Military” hospital that he was doing “very, very well”. The military is responsible for the health of sitting and former South African presidents.
Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and a global symbol of resistance to racism and injustice, spent 27 years in apartheid prisons, including 18 years on the windswept Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town.
He was released in 1990 and went on to be elected president in the historic all-race elections in 1994 that ended white-minority rule in Africa’s most important economy.
He used his unparalleled prestige to push for reconciliation between whites and blacks, setting up a commission to probe crimes committed by both sides in the anti-apartheid struggle.
Mandela’s African National Congress has continued to govern since his retirement from politics in 1999, but has been criticised for perceived corruption and slowness in addressing apartheid-era inequalities in housing, education and healthcare.
When Mandela was admitted on Saturday, officials stressed there was no cause for concern although domestic media reports suggested senior members of the government and people close to him had been caught unawares.
The City Press newspaper said both the Nelson Mandela Foundation and his ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, had not known about his transfer to the capital from his home in the remote village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape province.
“I wish Mr Mandela a quick recovery from his sickness so we can be with him all the time. He was a good president, a good leader, so he must be with us,” said John Sekiti, a petrol station attendant in Pretoria.
Mandela remains a hero to many of South Africa’s 52 million people and two brief stretches in hospital in the last two years made front page news.
He spent time in a Johannesburg hospital in 2011 with a respiratory condition, and again in February this year because of abdominal pains. He was released the following day after a keyhole examination showed there was nothing serious.
He has since spent most of his time in Qunu.
His fragile health prevents him from making any public appearances in South Africa, although he has continued to receive high-profile domestic and international visitors, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton in July. (Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Mark Heinrich)