Nelson Mandela hospitalized

  • Updated: March 28, 2013 - 8:03 PM
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Former South African President Nelson Mandela has struggled with lung problems since he contracted tuberculosis during his 27 years in prison in the apartheid era.

Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko • Associated Press file ,

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Former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa was readmitted to the hospital because of a recurring lung infection, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday, appealing to people around the world to pray for Mandela.

It was the third time in four months that Mandela, 94, South Africa’s first black president and former leader of the dominant African National Congress, had been hospitalized. He was admitted shortly before midnight Wednesday, the statement said, but authorities delayed the announcement for several hours.

Mandela spent 19 days in December hospitalized for a lung infection and what government officials described as the surgical removal of gallstones. He was readmitted earlier this month for what was termed a checkup. Mandela has struggled with lung problems since he contracted tuberculosis during his 27 years in prison in the apartheid era, when his incarceration became a potent symbol in South Africa and around the world of the struggle to throw off a codified system of racial domination devised by the country’s white rulers.

“We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba and his family and to keep them in their thoughts,” Zuma said, referring to Mandela by his clan name. Later, the president’s office said Mandela’s doctors said he was “responding positively to the treatment he is undergoing.” Zuma then tried to dissipate the sense of alarm, saying: “The country must not panic; Madiba is fine.”

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