Nelson Mandela’s condition remains serious

Schoolchildren line up Monday to visit the house of Nelson Mandela in the Soweto district of Johannesburg, South Africa. The 94-year-old Mandela remained in a Pretoria hospital for a sixth day after a recurrence of a longstanding lung infection.
(Kim Ludbrook / EPA)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Nelson Mandela passed his fourth day under intensive care Tuesday in a Pretoria hospital in serious but stable condition, according to a statement Tuesday by the South African presidency.

The statement offered little new information, dampening hopes for a recovery by the former president, as South Africans increasingly seemed to accept their beloved hero’s mortality.

The statement said President Jacob Zuma met with Mandela’s medical team Monday evening and received a thorough briefing.


TIMELINE: The life of Nelson Mandela

“The former president is still in a serious, but stable condition in a Pretoria hospital,” the statement said. “President Zuma has full confidence in the medical team, and is satisfied that they are doing their best to make Madiba better.”

Madiba is Mandela’s clan name, used widely as a term of endearment for him.

Mandela was admitted to the hospital early Saturday suffering a recurrence of a lung infection. He has battled successive bouts of pneumonia in recent years, after contracting tuberculosis in 1988 during his 27-year imprisonment over his opposition to apartheid.

Mandela’s family has visited him daily and his daughter, Zenani Mandela, South Africa’s ambassador to Argentina, has flown home to be with him.

Zuma was in Cape Town, according to his spokesman, and had no plans to visit Mandela on Tuesday. Spokesman Mac Maharaj said on Monday that Zuma would visit Mandela “at the appropriate time.”

On Tuesday, a group of Pretoria schoolchildren visited Mandela’s hospital and stood in the street outside to sing a song, “Get well Tata Mandela, get well,” SAPA reported. Tata means father in the Xhosa language, and is another common term for Mandela.

One of the children read a card thanking Mandela for all he had done for the country and telling him that he was loved.

Other well wishers have left messages of concern and support outside Mandela’s home in upscale suburban Houghton.

Mandela plays no active role in South African politics but is revered for his role in negotiating a peaceful end to apartheid and ushering in a period of stable democracy. Mandela is held in awe around the world for his sacrifice in spending 27 years in prison for opposing apartheid and is remembered for a heroic speech at his trial for political sabotage, declared he would be willing to die for a society in which all people were equal.

After his release in 1990, he exhibited no bitterness or desire for revenge, but promoted reconciliation between South Africa’s racial groups. He was elected South Africa’s first black president, serving only one term, unusual in a continent where many leaders stay on for decades.


Snowden’s dilemma: What are the possibilities for asylum?

Suicide bombers target central Damascus, killing at least 14

Britain denies using PRISM to get around domestic spying laws