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Nelson Mandela in "serious but stable" condition

The South African presidency gave its first update in almost a week on the health of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president.

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Nelson Mandela attends a photocall ahead of tonight's '46664 Arctic' concert, at the Rica Hotel on June 11, 2005 in Tromso, Norway. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

The health of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela has changed little since his hospitalization two weeks ago in Pretoria for a respiratory infection, according to the South African government.

The former South African president is still in a "serious but stable" condition, the government said in a statement on Saturday, an update that is consistent with previous announcements.

The office of the presidency also confirmed news that the ambulance carrying Mandela to the hospital on June 8 had broken down.

"I want to assure the public that from the presidency side we are assured by the doctors that all care was taken to ensure that former President Nelson Mandela's medical condition was not compromised by this incident," said Mac Maharaj, a South African presidential spokesman, on local television.

Media reports say engine trouble had stranded the ambulance for 40 minutes in winter conditions until Mandela could be transferred to another vehicle.

"The fully equipped military Intensive Care Unit ambulance had a full complement of specialist medical staff including intensive care specialists and ICU nurses. The convoy also included two quick response vehicles," Maharaj said.

Maharaj then called on the media to refrain from speculating on Mandela's health, asking for reporters to rely on the office of the president for updates.