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S Africa says Mandela's condition 'improved'

President's office says anti-apartheid icon had "restful" fourth day in hospital and continues to receive treatment.

Last Modified: 31 Mar 2013 20:24
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The condition of South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela has improved further, the government has said, as the 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero spent a fourth day in hospital receiving treatment for pneumonia.

"Former President Nelson Mandela had a restful day," South Africa's presidency said in a statement on Sunday, adding that doctors treating him had reported "a further improvement in his condition".

Mandela, the former South African president, is comfortable and able to breathe without problems as he continues to respond to treatment in hospital for a recurrence of pneumonia, President Jacob Zuma's office has said.

On Saturday, in the first detailed mention of his medical condition since his hospitalisation, a statement said he had "developed a pleural effusion which was tapped".

Previous medical reports since he was taken to hospital late on Wednesday have said he was responding well and that he was in "good spirits".

The successive bulletins have appeared to indicate that the recurrence of the lung infection afflicting the revered statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate is being successfully treated.

Zuma's office had said previously that Mandela, country's first black president, was responding well to treatment after he was admitted to hospital before midnight on Wednesday.

Mandela became president after winning the country's first all-race election in 1994.

Get well messages

A former lawyer, he is revered at home and abroad for leading the struggle against white minority rule - including spending 27 years on Robben Island and other prisons - and then promoting the cause of racial reconciliation.

Global figures such as US President Barack Obama have sent get well messages and South Africans have included Mandela in their prayers on the Easter weekend, one of the most important dates of the Christian calendar.

"I hope this time God will have mercy on him to give him the strength and courage to continue to be an icon for our country," Father Benedict Mahlangu said at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church as it held services in the Soweto township outside Johannesburg where Mandela once lived.

"I hope this time God will have mercy on him to give him the strength and courage to continue to be an icon for our country."

- Father Benedict Mahlangu Regina Mundi Catholic

The US president sent his best wishes to the democracy icon.

"He is as strong physically as he's been in character and in leadership over so many decades, and hopefully he will ... come out of this latest challenge," Obama told reporters at the White House.

"When you think of a single individual that embodies the kind of leadership qualities that I think we all aspire to, the first name that comes up is Nelson Mandela. And so we wish him all the very best," Obama said.

The series of hospitalisations has seen an outpouring of prayers, but has also seen South Africans come to terms with the mortality of their national hero.

Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa, reporting from Johannesburg, said many South Africans were concerned about Mandela's health.

"Most South Africans understand the fact that he is an old man, and that he will go in and out of hospital more often than not. There isn't a sense of panic right now."

Africa's tallest leader has not been keeping well in recent months. He spent a night in a hospital in March, and he was operated upon to remove gallstones in December last year.

A year ago, Mandela was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital for what officials initially described as tests but what turned out to be an acute respiratory infection.

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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