Nelson Mandela was in serious but stable condition in a Pretoria hospital for the third day Monday with a recurring lung infection, and a foundation led by retired archbishop Desmond Tutu described the 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero as an “extraordinary gift” to South Africa.
As family members visited South Africa’s first black president in the hospital, the government announced – in only the second communication on Mandela since he was hospitalized on Saturday – that his condition was “unchanged.”
Speaking Monday to CBS News correspondent Debora Patta, Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj, a longtime friend of Mandela, said the former leader’s hospitalization and the fact that he had apparently not improved significantly was undeniably cause for concern, but he cautioned against “reading into it too much.”
“The doctors have to remain balanced in this situation,” Maharaj told Patta. “They cannot raise our hopes without justification. Nor can they make us lose hope without justification.”
Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie, and their daughter Zindzi were seen visiting the former South African president in the hospital on Monday.
A statement issued for the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation described Mandela as “the beloved father of our nation” and offered prayers for a man seen by many around the world as a symbol of reconciliation because of his peacemaking role when white racist rule ended in South Africa.
Mandela “once again endures the ravages of time in hospital,” said the Cape Town-based foundation, which was founded by Tutu and his wife Leah to promote peace. “We offer our thanks to God for the extraordinary gift of Mr. Mandela, and wish his family strength.”
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