Nelson Mandela update: No news is good news

Journalists who crowded around Mandela's home in Houghton on Sunday remained anxious, waiting for news on the former statesman's health. 

Mandela was admitted to a Pretoria hospital at about 1.30am on Saturday morning. Mandela suffers from a recurring lung infection. Another update on his health is expected to be released on Sunday afternoon.

The last update on the former statesman's health was issued by the presidency on Saturday morning.

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said Mandela was in a serious but stable condition in a Pretoria hospital. He said Mandela was receiving the best care possible and that the media was asked to respect the Mandela family's privacy.

In an interview with eNCA, Maharaj said he was pleased at the way Mandela's latest hospital stay was being handled by the public across the world. Maharaj said the world had expressed "concern" and that people were understandably anxious about Mandela's health, but that "false stories" were not being spread.

"They are coming to terms with reality," Maharaj said. He did not respond to further questions on Saturday evening. 

He added that while Mandela had been a long-time sufferer of lung disease, his age would affect his recovery. Mandela will celebrate his 95th birthday on July 18 this year.

Family visits
Meanwhile, family members have reportedly visited Mandela at a hospital. His daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, was seen leaving the hospital in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.

His wife, Graca Machel, remains at his bedside.

Machel had been scheduled to speak at the "Nutrition for Growth: Beating Hunger through Business and Science" summit in London on Saturday.

She cancelled her attendance on Thursday, Maharaj said.

Maharaj said on Saturday doctors were doing everything they could to make Mandela "better and comfortable".

"What I am told by doctors is that he is breathing on his own and I think that is a positive sign," he said. "Madiba is a fighter and at his age, as long as he is fighting he will be fine," Maharaj said.

Regular hospital visits
On April 6, Mandela was discharged from hospital after spending nine days receiving treatment for a recurring lung infection. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has suffered lung ailments before and has been in and out of hospital.

Early in March, he was admitted to a Pretoria hospital for a scheduled check-up and was discharged the following day.

In December last year, Mandela underwent an operation to remove gallstones and treat the recurring lung infection. He was discharged after an 18-day stay.

In January, the presidency said Mandela had made a full recovery from surgery and continued to improve. In February last year he was admitted to hospital for a stomach ailment.

At the time, the presidency said Mandela underwent a diagnostic procedure to investigate the cause of a long-standing abdominal complaint.

Routine tests
In January 2011, Mandela was taken to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg for routine tests relating to respiratory problems.

Mandela's last major public appearance was in July 2010 at the final of the World Cup at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg.

Since then he had spent his time between Johannesburg and his village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

Mandela stepped down as president in 1999 after one term in office and has been removed from politics for a decade.

He appeared in a brief television clip aired by state television in April during a visit to his home by Zuma.

At the time, the ANC assured the public Mandela was "in good shape", although the footage showed a thin and frail old man sitting expressionless in an armchair with his head propped against a pillow. – Sapa, Reuters and Staff reporter

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