JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Nelson Mandela, 92, is recovering from a collapsed lung and could be released from hospital as early as Friday, reported Reuters, quoting a source close to Mandela.
The former South African president was admitted to Johannesburg's Milpark Hospital on Wednesday for what his foundation described as routine tests. He has been visited by high-profile friends and family members, but no official details on his condition have been announced.
The anti-apartheid icon and former South African president has been seen by a specialist pulmonologist who treats diseases of the respiratory system, according to the Johannesburg newspaper The Star.
Mandela was “in no danger and is in good spirits,” said Sello Hatang, spokesman for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
President Jacob Zuma, who is attending the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, issued a statement saying that Mandela "is comfortable and is well looked after by a good team of medical specialists."
Zuma called for "calm and restraint. We urge the media to afford him the dignity and respect that he is entitled to as the country's founding democratic President, as a national hero and also as a citizen of the Republic."
Ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela visited him this morning, arriving at the hospital in a BMW escorted by bodyguards. Journalists remain camped outside the hospital, waiting for news about Mandela’s condition. A green barricade has been erected to hide the back entrance of the hospital from view.
Mandela was also visited today by longtime aide Zelda le Grange, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and family members including daughter Zindzi and grandson chief Mandla Mandela.
At a primary school near the hospital, children shouted “We love you Madiba!” from classroom windows and made posters of support with messages such as “Get well soon.”
A statement released by Mandela's foundation yesterday said he was “undergoing routine tests.”
The ruling African National Congress, Mandela’s party, today called for calm over the hospitalization of “Madiba,” Mandela’s clan name and a term of affection used by South Africans.
“It is a well-known fact that Madiba is 92 years old and no longer a young man,” said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu. “As South Africans, let us all allow doctors at the hospital to do their best in conducting tests on our elder statesman. We also wish to confirm that Madiba is well taken care of at the hospital.”
Mthembu also appealed to the media “to refrain from making unfounded and unwarranted speculation in relation to Madiba’s health” and to give his family and the hospital privacy.
“We call on all South Africans to remain calm regarding the hospitalization of Madiba and not press any panic buttons, as there is no reason for that whatsoever. We, again, wish to inform all South Africans that if there is any change in the hospitalization of Madiba, including his discharge from hospital, they will be communicated to,” Mthembu said.
Mandela, the first black president of South Africa and one of the world's most revered statesmen, lives in Johannesburg.
He spent 27 years in prison after being arrested for plotting an armed struggle against the apartheid government. His release in 1990 paved the way for the end of white rule and he became president in 1994. He stepped down after one term in power in 1999.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma won’t be returning from the World Economic Forum in Davos, his spokesman told SAPA yesterday.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner was last seen in public at the soccer World Cup Final in July last year, when he was briefly driven around the field on the back of a golf cart.
Close family members, including his wife Graca Machel, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, visited him during the course of Wednesday afternoon, prompting speculation that his condition was worse than initially reported.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu sparked intense debate earlier Wednesday about Mandela's health after he replied to questions from reporters in Cape Town. "I saw him last week," Archbishop Tutu told SAPA. "He was all right — I mean, he's 92, man, you know? And he's frail."
Editor's note: Mandela's Village, GlobalPost's series about Nelson Mandela's home village, describes South Africa's past and points the way toward its future. Where tradition vies with modern leadership. Where Mandela was no saint. Where rural poverty persists. Where Mandela’s legacy inspires future leaders.