South Africa”s former president Nelson Mandela has spent another night in hospital being treated for a lung infection. The revered statesman is in a serious but stable condition in intensive care after being admitted in the early hours of Saturday morning.
His wife Graça Machel cancelled a visit to London over the weekend to remain by the anti-Apartheid hero”s bedside.
On Sunday, his followers were cheered by visits from his family. His daughter Makaziwe and his granddaughter Ndileka were seen going into the Pretoria hospital where he is being cared for. Meanwhile, another daughter, Zindzi, said that her father was “well” and “a fighter”.
Nelson Mandela in 2008 with two of his successors Jacob Zuma (left) and Thabo Mbheki
The country”s current leader Jacob Zuma urged South African “to pray for Madiba and the family during this time” – Madiba is the great man”s clan name.
He told a rally: “Please, our president Madiba must make a speedy recovery. We wish Madiba can get well soon because we want him to stay with us for a long time.”
Others have sparked controversy, however, by suggesting his life should not be prolonged unnecessarily. Andrew Mlangeni, 87, a comrade who was incarcerated alongside the hero in Robben Island said his family “must release” him.
Addressing his friend directly, he said: “You have been coming to the hospital too many times. Quite clearly you are not well and there is a possibility you might not be well again.”
“The family must release him so that God may have his own way. They must release him spiritually and put their faith in the hands of God. Once the family releases him, the people of South Africa will follow. We will say thank you, God, you have given us this man, and we will release him too.”
Visiting London on his last tour before bowing out of public life four years
This is the third time that Mr Mandela has been in hospital already this year. It is thought his lungs were damaged as a result of working in the prison quarry during 27 years behind bars.
As recently as last year, he was well enough to meet with Bill Clinton who paid him a birthday visit and praised his zest for life.
The former US president said: “Even though he will be 94 tomorrow, when I think about Mandela I always think about someone committed to the future.”
The previous year the Father of the Rainbow Nation was seen smiling during an audience Michelle Obama and her daughters.