Mandela breathing easily after treatment for pneumonia

Johannesburg, Mar 30 (EFE).- Former South African President Nelson Mandela is breathing without difficulty after being treated in hospital for a recurrence of the pneumonia he had suffered, the office of the current head of state, Jacob Zuma, said Saturday in a communique.

Doctors announced that due to a pulmonary infection, ex-President Mandela "developed a pleural effusion which was tapped" and drained, according to a statement issued by presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj.

"This has resulted in him now being able to breathe without difficulty. He continues to respond to treatment and is comfortable," Maharaj said about the anti-apartheid leader, having announced previously that Mandela was hospitalized late Wednesday for a "pulmonary infection."

The communique, which, for the first time since the 94-year-old Mandela was hospitalized, mentioned that his illness was related to "pneumonia," also expressed gratitude for the prayers and messages of concern for the patient and his family.

Maharaj said Friday that Mandela - in hospital for the fifth time in just over two years - was in good spirits and is making steady progress in his recovery.

Mandela, who fought against South Africa's former system of racial segregation for 67 years, suffers from respiratory ailments stemming from his 27-year imprisonment by the apartheid regime.

The "father of the nation" divides his time between Johannesburg and Qunu, the eastern village where he spent his childhood.

His last public appearance was at the closing ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which South Africa hosted.