Mandela ‘improving’ in hospital

Former South African president receives visit from current leader Jacob Zuma

Well-wishers have been leaving goodwill messages written on stones and placed inside planters outside of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela's residence  in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Well-wishers have been leaving goodwill messages written on stones and placed inside planters outside of former South Africa President Nelson Mandela's residence in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Thu, Apr 4, 2013, 18:29

Former South African president Nelson Mandela (94) received a visit in hospital from current leader Jacob Zuma today, who said the anti-apartheid hero was making "continuous improvement" under treatment for pneumonia.

"Madiba is stable and we are thankful that he is responding well to treatment and that he is much better," Mr Zuma said, referring to Mr Mandela by his clan name.

Mr Mandela has spent just over a week in hospital. This is the third health scare in four months for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who became South Africa's first black president in 1994 and was hailed as a global symbol of tolerance and harmony.

He was in hospital briefly in early March for a check-up and was hospitalised in December for nearly three weeks with a lung infection and after surgery to remove gallstones.

Mr Mandela stepped down as president in 1999 and has not been politically active for a decade. But he is still revered at home and abroad for leading the struggle against apartheid rule and then championing racial reconciliation while in office.

Mr Mandela has a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted tuberculosis as a political prisoner. He spent 27 years in prison on Robben Island and in other jails for his attempts to overthrow the white-minority government.