Nelson Mandela was in a comfortable condition in hospital last night after undergoing surgery for a stomach condition. The 93-year-old former South African president has a ‘long-standing abdominal complaint’ which needed specialist medical attention.
However, officials insisted his admission was planned rather than an emergency, although they declined to say where he was being treated. Last night Mr Mandela was said to be stable and fully conscious after undergoing a ‘diagnostic procedure’ and is expected to be released from hospital today or tomorrow.
A statement from the office of the current president, Jacob Zuma, using Mr Mandela’s honorific name, said: ‘Madiba has had a long-standing abdominal complaint, and doctors feel it needs proper specialist medical attention’.
‘The doctors are satisfied with his condition, which they say is consistent with his age.’
Meanwhile, Mr Mandela’s eldest daughter Makaziwe, 57, has spoken of her fears for her father, but said that the family hopes he will rally. She told The Mail on Sunday: ‘He is very old and I know that one day I have to face being an orphan. I hope he will pull through, but he is very frail and weak.’
When Mr Mandela was taken ill last year there was fevered speculation in the South African media and virtual silence from the government, fuelling public fears that he was close to death. But after two nights he was discharged.
This time, the authorities appear to have been more open with the public. ‘I can assure you that the former president is in good spirits and well’, said Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for Mr Zuma.
A source close to the family said Mr Mandela had been ill for some weeks and had been too unwell to attend a family celebration for the birthday of one of his grandchildren ten days ago. Unusually, visitors had been banned from his home in Johannesburg, where he had been resting before being taken into hospital on Friday night.
The source said: ‘The house has essentially been cordoned off, because he has been so poorly. ‘He hasn’t been feeling well at all and there has been a lot of anxiety about his condition. His pulse has been very quick and the family feared that his body was beginning to shut down.’
Mr Mandela returned to Johannesburg about three weeks ago from his home in Qunu, the village where he was born. It is believed he made the move to receive the medical treatment.