Former South African President Nelson Mandela has been admitted to the hospital in South Africa and his condition is listed as “serious but stable,” according to a presidential spokesperson.
Mandela, 94, has been battling a recurring lung infection, but his condition deteriorated rapidly overnight. Mandela, affectionately called Madida, is able to “breathe on his own,” according to spokesperson Mac Maharaj.
“As long as Tata [father] is still alive then poor people like me, people who are down, single mothers like me, we still have hope,” said Mamoshomo Tswai, a trader in Pretoria. “South Africa is nothing without him.”
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“Naturally the immediate members of the family have access to him and it’s always good for the patient that he has been accompanied by one or other of them, and that has happened,” he said.
Mr Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, has cancelled a scheduled appearance at a meeting in London on Saturday.
‘Symbol of hope’
“President Jacob Zuma, on behalf of government and the nation, wishes Madiba a speedy recovery and requests the media and the public to respect the privacy of Madiba and his family,” Mr Maharaj said in a statement.
On the streets of Pretoria, people expressed their affection for their former president and their concern.
[An] informal trader in Pretoria, who did not want give their name, said: “We must just accept that he is old. We love him, we all do, but we must start to accept that he is a very old man.”Keith Khoza, a spokesman for the governing ANC, said Mr Mandela continued to be “a symbol of hope, to be a symbol of reconciliation” for South Africa.
“We are certainly concerned about his health and we called on South Africans to pray for him and his family.
“Even if you have an elderly person in the family who is sick and you expect something – once it happens the shock is still there.”