Nelson Mandela: South African hero 'doing well' in hospital

File picture taken on June 17, 2010 shows former Nelson Mandela at the funeral of his great-granddaughter in Sandton, north of Johannesburg Mr Mandela retired from public life in 2004 and has made few public appearances since

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Former South African President Nelson Mandela is said to be "doing well" after spending a second night in the Pretoria hospital where he was admitted on Saturday.

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said Mr Mandela, 94, would undergo further tests for an undisclosed condition.

On Sunday Mr Mandela was visited by President Jacob Zuma, who said he was looking well after a restful night.

News of the hospital stay has prompted much concern in South Africa.

But Mr Maharaj said Mr Mandela was "comfortable" and there was "no cause for alarm".

The former president is revered at home and around the world for leading the struggle against white-minority rule before becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994.

Despite being imprisoned for 27 years by the apartheid government, after his release he forgave his former enemies and urged South Africans of all races to work together and seek reconciliation.

Start Quote

Get well and continue to inspire us”

End Quote Congress of South African Trade Unions

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

"[Mr Mandela] had a good night's rest. The doctors will still conduct further tests today [Monday]. He is in good hands," Mr Maharaj said in a statement.

"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."

'Great person'

Mr Zuma has been reassured that Mr Mandela - admitted to hospital on Saturday - is in the hands of a competent medical team, Mr Maharaj told the BBC, without giving further details about his treatment or condition.

Nelson Mandela's health scares

  • Feb 2012: In hospital for minor procedure to treat abdominal pain
  • Jan 2011: In hospital for a few days with serious chest infection
  • 2001: Diagnosed with prostate cancer, of which he was cured
  • 1994: Underwent cataract surgery soon after becoming president
  • 1988: Diagnosed with early-stage tuberculosis while in prison
  • 1985: Surgery for an enlarged prostate gland

"[We want to] avoid news about Madiba's [Mr Mandela's clan name] health being treated as if it is the movement of share prices on the stockmarket," said Mr Maharaj, who spent many years imprisoned with Mr Mandela on Robben Island.

The former president was taken from his home in the rural village of Qunu, in Eastern Cape province, to hospital in the capital on Saturday.

Local media report that the decision to move him was taken so quickly that some family members and his own foundation were initially unaware of it.

Mr Zuma's office said on Saturday that Mr Mandela needs medical attention "from time to time which is consistent with his age".

The authorities are keen to respect Mr Mandela's privacy and control any information about his health, the BBC's Andrew Harding in Johannesburg reports.

But there is enormous public concern here for the man widely revered as the father of democratic South Africa, he adds.

Prayers were held for the former leader at the Regina Mundi Catholic church in the Soweto area of Johannesburg, once the centre of protests and funerals during apartheid.

"Yes, it really worries us because he is a great person," churchgoer Shainet Mnkomo told Associated Press. "He did so many things to the country, he's one of those persons who we remember most."

'Memory is fading'
A television crew films outside a military hospital where former South African president Nelson Mandela is hospitalized in Pretoria International media have set up outside a military hospital in Pretoria, where Mr Mandela is said to be

The Congress of South African Trade Unions said it hoped the government's statement about his condition was true, and urged Mr Mandela to: "Get well and continue to inspire us".

Mr Mandela retired from public life in 2004 and has not been seen in public since the 2010 World Cup.

Mr Mandela was last in hospital in February, when he underwent a minor procedure to investigate the causes of an abdominal problem.

And in January 2011 he was treated for a serious chest infection.

Mr Mandela spends the majority of his time in Qunu, which is close to where he was born.

Our correspondent says he is known to be frail and his memory is fading, but visitors have repeatedly said he is in good spirits.

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