Hospitalized Nelson Mandela ‘much better’

Johannesburg CNN  — 

Hospitalized former South African President Nelson Mandela is making steady improvement and “is much better” than he was when doctors admitted him for a recurring lung infection last week, the country’s presidential office said Wednesday.

The 94-year-old Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, received treatment for pneumonia over the weekend after being admitted to a hospital on March 27, a government spokesman has said.

It’s the second time in the past month that Mandela has been hospitalized. In February, he was taken to a hospital for what officials described as a routine checkup.

He underwent treatment for a lung infection and had surgery to remove gallstones over the Christmas holiday – one of his longest hospital stays since his release from prison in 1990.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has become increasingly frail over the years and has not appeared in public since South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010.

His history of lung problems dates back to when he was a political prisoner on Robben Island during apartheid. He contracted tuberculosis during the 27 years he was imprisoned.

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CNN’s Kim Norgaard reported from Johannesburg; CNN’s Jason Hanna wrote from Atlanta