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South Africa

No need to panic over Mandela, government says

Reuters
2 min

The South African government said on Friday that former president Nelson Mandela’s health is not in danger but confirmed that he is undergoing specialised tests at a Johannesburg hospital. Speculation about the 92-year-old’s condition has been widespread since he was admitted to Milpark hospital on Wednesday.

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South Africa's Surgeon-General is due to brief the media later on Friday but the government has already moved to calm fears over the health of the country’s first democratic leader.

"Medically there is no need to panic. Dr Mandela suffers from ailment common to people of his age, and conditions that have developed over years," Vice-President Kgalema Motlanthe said in a statement.

"We may recall that he has suffered from tuberculosis whilst on Robben Island and has had previous respiratory infections … I want to assure the nation and the world that the former president is in high spirit, and has been visited by his family and friends.”

Zondwa Mandela, his grandson, told the Bloomberg news agency that he is “in good health and good spirits." He visited his grandfather in hospital on Wednesday.

The Times newspaper reported on Friday that Mandela was suffering from a respiratory condition, believed to be bronchitis, and was put on a ventilator early on Thursday after he had difficulty breathing and speaking.

Mandela was imprisoned for his role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and spent most of his 27-year jail term on Robben Island. He was freed in 1990, after which he led the transition to democracy.

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