FORMER president Nelson Mandela is in a “serious but stable” condition after being admitted to a Pretoria hospital early on Saturday morning due to a recurring lung infection, the Presidency said.
Mr Maharaj said President Jacob Zuma had wished Mr Mandela a speedy recovery and asked that the media and the public respect his privacy and that of his family.
On April 6 this year, Mr Mandela was discharged from hospital after spending nine days receiving treatment for his recurring lung problems. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has suffered lung ailments before.
Early in March, he was admitted to a Pretoria hospital for a scheduled check-up and was discharged the following day.
Four months before that, in December, he was in hospital for 18 days as he underwent an operation to remove gallstones and treat a lung infection. The Presidency said in January that Mr Mandela had made a full recovery from the surgery.
In February last year he was admitted to hospital for a stomach ailment. At the time, the Presidency said Mr Mandela underwent a diagnostic procedure to investigate a long-standing abdominal complaint.
In an interview with The Associated Press last month, his eldest daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, said he did not talk much any more but reached out in another way.
“It’s the hand that he stretches out. It is the touching of the hand that speaks volumes for me. And for me, if you ask me what I would treasure, it is this moment that I treasure with my father,” she said. “It means, ‘My child, I’m here.’ It means to me that, ‘I’m here. I love you. I care.’”
Ms Mandela, the oldest of Mr Mandela’s three surviving children, added: “My dad has not been in good, perfect health over the past month. And he has good days and he has bad days.”
One of those bad days was April 29, when state television broadcast footage of a visit by Mr Zuma and other leaders of the African National Congress to Mr Mandela, at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg.
Mr Zuma said Mr Mandela was in good shape, but the footage — the first public images of the former president in nearly a year — showed him silent and unresponsive, even when Mr Zuma tried to hold his hand.
Ms Mandela also said the “dignity and privacy” of her father was sometimes under threat, complaining that 20 journalists one day in May converged on his home after an ambulance left to fetch medicine from a hospital.
The former president’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 had spent his time between Johannesburg and his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
With Sapa, Sapa-AP