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Nelson Mandela in "satisfactory condition" after hernia surgery

By Nkepile Mabuse, CNN
updated 6:37 PM EST, Sat February 25, 2012
  • Mandela is "comfortable" and in "a satisfactory condition," president says
  • Mandela had an operation for a hernia, relative says
  • He should be released no later than Monday, relative says
  • The former president last appeared in public in 2010

Johannesburg (CNN) -- South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela successfully underwent hernia surgery Saturday, a family member told CNN Saturday.

Mandela was "comfortable" and in "a satisfactory condition" Saturday, said the South African president, who referred to the medical event only as "a planned procedure."

The 93-year-old likely will be discharged within the next two days, a Mandela relative told CNN.

Considered the founding father of South Africa's democracy, Mandela became an international figure when he endured 27 years in prison for fighting racial segregation. He was freed in 1990, and three years later, he and then-South African President F.W. de Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1994, Mandela was elected president, serving only one term as he had promised.

On Saturday, President Jacob Zuma said Mandela was being treated for a "longstanding abdominal complaint." The president referred to Mandela by his affectionate clan name Madiba.

Mandela's surgery 'not at emergency'

"Madiba is fine and fully conscious and the doctors are satisfied with his condition, which they say is consistent with his age," Zuma said in a statement Saturday afternoon.

"He was in good health before admission in hospital but doctors felt the complaint needed a thorough investigation. He underwent a diagnostic procedure as part of his ongoing medical management. We are happy that he is not in any danger and thank the doctors for their hard work and professionalism," Zuma said.

A government official assured the public that Mandela's hospital stay was not an emergency.

"People need not panic. This was planned ... Mandela has had abdominal pains for sometime," said Keith Khoza, a spokesman for the ruling African National Congress.

Officials and family declined to name the hospital where the former president is undergoing treatment.

Mandela last appeared in public in the closing ceremonies of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

He was hospitalized last year for treatment of an acute respiratory infection, and continued to receive treatment at home after doctors discharged him.

Despite his rare appearances, Mandela retains his popularity and is considered a hero of democracy here.

He spent 27 years in prison after being convicted of sabotage and attempts to overthrow the former apartheid regime.

In a life fighting the racism of apartheid he went from being considered a terrorist to jailed freedom fighter to nation builder to elder statesman respected in the world's capitals. Clint Eastwood's 2009 film "Invictus," starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela, dramatizes Mandela's nation-healing presidency in the 1990s.

Mandela relocated to his childhood town of Qunu last year, but moved back to his Johannesburg home earlier this year.

At the time, Zuma said the move was because the home in his boyhood town was undergoing maintenance.

Members of the public can send messages to Mandela through President Zuma to, officials said.

CNN's Nadia Bilchik, Faith Karimi and Michael Martinez contributed to this report

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