NEW: Mandela family member says "miscommunication" led to erroneous report
"At times his condition becomes unstable, but he responds to... interventions," presidency says
Mandela, 95, has been hospitalized since June
He marked his July birthday at the Pretoria hospital, surrounded by relatives
Nelson Mandela has been discharged from the Pretoria hospital where he had been receiving treatment since June, the South African president’s office said Sunday.
Two sources close to Mandela had told CNN Saturday that he had returned to his Johannesburg home after a long hospital stay. One of the sources, a close family member, later said that there had been a “miscommunication” between the Mandela’s medical team and a family member.
“The family mistakenly thought Mandela had been taken to his Johannesburg home early Saturday morning,” the source told CNN, adding that there is discussion about sending the former president home and “it is the general wish of both the family and the medical team that he goes home soon.”
After the initial reports surfaced, President Jacob Zuma’s office issued a statement, saying, “The presidency has noted incorrect media reports that former President Nelson Mandela has been discharged from hospital.”
“Madiba is still in hospital in Pretoria, and remains in a critical but stable condition. At times his condition becomes unstable, but he responds to medical interventions,” the statement said, referring to the revered leader’s clan name.
Before releasing the statement, the president’s office declined to comment when CNN called to confirm reports from the sources. Attempts to reach those sources to clarify their initial statements about Mandela’s whereabouts were not immediately successful Saturday.
Mandela, 95, was hospitalized June 8 because of a lung infection. He marked his July birthday at the Pretoria hospital where he has been surrounded by relatives.
The frail icon has not appeared in public for years, but he retains his popularity as the father of democracy and emblem of the nation’s fight against apartheid.
Mandela became an international figure while enduring 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, the country’s system of racial segregation.
He became the nation’s first black president in 1994, four years after he was freed from prison.
Mandela’s impact extends far beyond South African borders. After he left office, he mediated conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.
His history of lung problems dates to his imprisonment on Robben Island, and he has battled respiratory infections since then.
Earlier this week, Zuma’s office said he remains in a critical but stable condition, and Saturday’s statement said that had not changed.
During his hospitalization, crowds gathered outside his Pretoria hospital to sing, and leave him flowers, stuffed animals and notes.
CNN’s Robyn Curnow contributed to this report