- (Photo: REUTERS/Juda Ngwenya/Files)
Two nights after South Africa's 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero, Nelson Mandela, was hospitalized in Pretoria, the office of President Jacob Zuma said on Monday he was "doing well" and there was "no cause for alarm."
"[Mandela] had a good night's rest. The doctors will still conduct further tests today [Monday]. He is in good hands," Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement on Monday, a day after President Zuma visited the Nobel Peace Prize laureate in a military hospital in the national capital.
"Today is also a special day as President Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December 1993... for his selfless contribution to the struggle for liberation, human rights and justice in South Africa," the statement added.
Mandela, who served as president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, has to undergo more tests for an undisclosed condition, Maharaj said.
Mandela, who won the nation's first all-race elections in 1994 that marked the end of apartheid, was hospitalized Saturday for a second time this year, raising popular concerns over his health. Following Mandela's hospitalization, Zuma's office announced he had been admitted to a Pretoria hospital for medical tests and care that was "consistent for his age."
The following day, congregants packed landmark Regina Mundi church in Soweto, Johannesburg, to pray for him. Since the nation's largest Roman Catholic Church served as a place of gathering for the people of Soweto before, during and after the anti-apartheid struggle, it is known as "the people's church" or "the people's cathedral." In 1997, Mandela established Nov. 30 as "Regina Mundi Day" to honor the church.
"I believe not just South Africans but millions throughout the world will be praying for Madiba, and we are appealing to people to respect his privacy," Maharaj told Voice of America. "We want his treatment to be unimpeded, to be done under the least stressful conditions, and for the doctors to have a free hand to attend to him. I'm sure everybody wishes that for him."
Before Monday's presidential statement, reports had claimed that Mandela had stopped talking, and "has not been talking. He is not looking good."
In February, Mandela spent a night in a hospital for a minor diagnostic surgery to determine the cause of an abdominal complaint, according to The Associated Press. In January 2011, he was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital for an acute respiratory infection.
During his years in prison, Mandela contracted tuberculosis and had surgery for an enlarged prostate gland in 1985. In 2001, Mandela underwent seven weeks of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, ultimately beating the disease.