Mandela spends 3rd night in hospital

2013-06-09 22:35

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Johannesburg - South Africa prayed for Nelson Mandela on Sunday as the revered peace icon faced a third night in hospital, with calls for the family and the nation to "let him go".

Government officials have given no update on his health since announcing that the 94-year-old was admitted early on Saturday and was in a "serious but stable" condition with a lung infection.

"I've seen my father and he's well. He's a fighter," his daughter Zindzi told The Guardian newspaper on Sunday.

But South Africans are beginning to come to terms with the mortality of their first black president and father of the "Rainbow Nation", following a string of recent health scares.

The Sunday Times newspaper's stark front page headline was: "It's time to let him go".

It is the fourth hospital stay since December for the Nobel peace prize laureate, who turns 95 next month, after he was discharged in April following treatment for pneumonia.

Although the government has not identified the hospital treating Mandela, family members were seen leaving a heart clinic in Pretoria where a large media camp is gathered.

"We wish Madiba a speedy recovery, but I think what is important is that his family must release him," Mandela's long-time friend Andrew Mlangeni, 87, told the Sunday Times, using his clan name.

"Once the family releases him, the people of South Africa will follow. We will say thank you, God, you have given us this man, and we will release him too," said the former apartheid era prisoner, who was jailed for life alongside Mandela in 1964.

Mandela's third wife Graça Machel has been at his hospital bedside after calling off a trip to a London conference.

While the official description of his health as serious was unusually sombre, presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj told AFP on Saturday that Mandela was breathing on his own.

"The truth of the matter is a simple one.

"Madiba is a fighter and at his age as long as he is fighting, he'll be fine," he said.

He said there would only be an update once he had received more information from Mandela's medical team.


Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  mac maharaj  |  graca machel
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