Skip to main content

Mandela back in hospital in 'serious' condition

By Faith Karimi and Robyn Curnow, CNN
updated 3:26 PM EDT, Sat June 8, 2013
Nelson Mandela, the prisoner-turned-president who reconciled South Africa after the end of apartheid, died on December 5, 2013. He was 95. Nelson Mandela, the prisoner-turned-president who reconciled South Africa after the end of apartheid, died on December 5, 2013. He was 95.
HIDE CAPTION
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
The evolution of Nelson Mandela
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "Anxiety shown by people throughout the world is perfectly understandable," spokesman says
  • NEW: Mandela is taken to a Pretoria hospital early Saturday
  • NEW: He is breathing on his own despite lung infection
  • His history of lung problems dates to when he was a political prisoner

Johannesburg (CNN) -- Former South African leader Nelson Mandela is in "serious but stable condition" at a Pretoria hospital with a recurring lung infection, the presidential spokesman said Saturday.

Mandela was hospitalized early Saturday after the state of his health deteriorated in the last few days, according to spokesman Mac Maharaj.

"He's receiving the best possible care," he said. "Everything is being done to ensure that he is comfortable and that he is getting better."

Maharaj said that the anti-apartheid icon is breathing on his own.

Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, is at the hospital with him, sources told CNN. She canceled her plans to attend the Hunger Summit meeting in London on Saturday.

South Africa's first black president gets round-the-clock care, and his house is retrofitted with medical equipment that mirrors that of an intensive care unit.

Mandela, 94, has become increasingly frail over the years and has not appeared in public since South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010.

Despite his rare public appearances, news of his ailment spark concerns worldwide.

"I think the concern, the anxiety shown by people throughout the world and South Africa is perfectly understandable," Maharaj said. "I think it is also true simultaneously that people have come to terms with his age. The most important thing is that we should realize that this is a life that we need to celebrate, even when he's with us. And we will celebrate it, even when he is not with us."

Spokesperson: Celebrate Mandela's life
Nelson Mandela,94,back in hospital
Look back at Mandela's early years

Mandela has been in and out of hospitals in recent years.

His history of lung problems dates to when he was a political prisoner on Robben Island during apartheid, and he has battled respiratory infections over the years.

Last year, he spent Christmas holidays undergoing treatment for a lung infection and gallstones, one of his longest hospital stays since his release from prison in 1990.

Considered the founding father of South Africa's democracy, Mandela became an international figure while enduring 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, the country's system of racial segregation.

"He has taught us ... that we enhance our own humanity when we serve and make a difference to other people's lives," Maharaj said. "It's easy to serve oneself, own interests, but serving the interests of others, making their lives better changes the quality of all humanity."

In 1993, Mandela and then-South African President F.W. de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The iconic leader was elected the nation's first black president a year later, serving only one term, as he had promised.

Despite rare public appearances in recent years, he retains his popularity and is considered a hero of democracy in the nation. Last year, South Africa launched a new batch of banknotes with a picture of a smiling Mandela on the front, a testament to his iconic status.

Mandela's impact extends far beyond South African borders. After he left office, he mediated conflicts from Africa to the Middle East.

CNN's Robyn Curnow reported from Johannesburg and Faith Karimi reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Brent Swalis, Ben Brumfield and Espirit Smith contributed to this report .

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT