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Report: South Africa

Zuma upbeat as Mandela spends fifth night in hospital

Daniel Finnan

Doctors treating anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela are doing “a very good job”, South African President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday. After meeting with physicians caring for Mandela at a Pretoria hospital, Zuma said he “will be with us very soon”.

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Although Mandela's condition is “very serious”, it is now stabilised, Zuma said from Cape Town, having met doctors the day before.

“They gave me a very thorough briefing. I was very confident that they know what they’re doing,” he said, adding that he knew Mandela was a good fighter.

The 94-year-old former president was admitted to hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning for a recurrent lung infection. It is the third time this year he has been hospitalised.

Zuma acknowledged the messages of support that have been “pouring” in for the anti-apartheid icon. “They’re highly welcomed,” he said.

Flowers and cards continue to be left outside Mandela’s gated Johannesburg home. A teddy bear propped-up by a tree nearby, wore a tee-shirt reading, “We love you Madiba”, referring to Mandela’s clan name.

Local schoolchildren have spent time during lessons designing cards and messages for the country's first post-apartheid president.

Reza, aged 10, told RFI that he was “sad” that Mandela was sick. After picking him up from King Edward primary school, his mum Yasmin delivered an envelope full of cards.

“That’s a nice one,” Yasmin pointed out. “Without you [Mandela], the SA flag will look like this - and it’s got half the colours missing."

About six or seven television cameras were stationed outside Mandela’s residence in the Houghton suburb of Johannesburg on Tuesday. A steady number of well-wishers trickled by, pulling over in their cars to drop off their tributes.

In Pretoria relatives, including two of his daughters, Makaziwe and Zenani, visited the hospital on Tuesday. His ex-wife, Winnie, was also seen entering the hospital.

Tribute to Nelson Mandela outside his home in Johannesburg

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