Zuma says Mandela getting better but remains ‘serious’

Doctors say former president’s improvement ‘sustained’

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of Nelson Mandela, arrives to visit him at a Pretoria hospital today. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of Nelson Mandela, arrives to visit him at a Pretoria hospital today. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 13:44

Nelson Mandela continues to recover in hospital from a lung infection but remains in a serious condition, South African President Jacob Zuma said today.

Mr Mandela has been in a Pretoria hospital for over a week, the fourth time the 94-year-old former president and anti-apartheid leader has been admitted to hospital since December.

“We are grateful that he continues to get better,” Mr Zuma said. “Over the last two days, although he remains serious, his doctors have stated that his improvement has been sustained.”

Mr Zuma added that the former president “continues to engage with family”.

Mr Zuma was addressing a gathering for Youth Day in eMadadeni in the KwaZulu-Natal province in remembrance of the 1976 Soweto youth uprisings against apartheid.

Mr Mandela’s repeated bouts of illness have reinforced a creeping realisation among South Africa’s 53 million people that they will one day have to say goodbye to their first black president.

Mr Mandela, popularly known by his clan name “Madiba”, has a history of lung problems dating back to his time at the windswept Robben Island prison camp near Cape Town. He was released from prison in 1990 after 27 years behind bars and was president from 1994 to 1999.

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