Former South African president Nelson Mandela has been discharged from hospital where he received treatment for a lung infection and surgery to remove gallstones, the government has said.
The 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who had spent nearly three weeks in hospital, was
discharged to his Johannesburg home on Wednesday. He has been in frail health for several years.
"He will undergo home-based high care at his [Johannesburg] home until he recovers fully," the government said in a statement issued by the presidency.
"We request a continuation of the privacy consideration in order to allow for the best possible conditions for full recovery," it said, without offering further details.
On Christmas Day, Mandela was visited by his wife Graca and other family members along with South African President Jacob Zuma, who had said Mandela was "looking much better" and "in good spirits".
Mandela's grandson Mandla had told a local television station that the family was sad he had not been able to join them on Christmas Day.
"We are greatly saddened by his absence ... We didn't anticipate that he would be away for so long," Mandla said from Mvezo village, where he is the local chief.
Messages of support
Messages of support and prayers for the recovery of the man affectionately known as Madiba, his clan name, have been pouring in from all over the country.
While many South Africans have resigned themselves to the idea of life without the country's most respected citizen, he remains highly esteemed.
Mandela has a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted tuberculosis while in jail as a political prisoner.
This was his longest stay in hospital since he was released from prison in 1990.
In January 2011 he was hospitalised for two nights for an acute respiratory infection.
Mandela was last seen in public in 2010, clad in a scarf during the closing ceremony of the FIFA World Cup, when he was wheeled into the Johannesburg stadium in a golf cart.
Mandela stepped down in 1999 after serving one term as president before taking up a new role as a leading campaigner against AIDS before finally retiring from public life in 2004.