Nelson Mandela in 1991 PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images
South Africa

49 years to the day since he was imprisoned, Mandela begins fifth day in hospital

The anti-apartheid leader’s condition continues to be described as “very serious but stable”.

THE FORMER SOUTH African president Nelson Mandela remains in a “very serious but stable” condition in hospital where he is spending a fifth day recovering from a recurring lung infection, according to current president Jacob Zuma.

The 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero has become increasingly frail in recent years and doubts have emerged as to whether he will recover from this latest setback but Zuma told South African public broadcaster SABC that Mandela is “a good fighter”.

“We are all feeling it, that our president, the real father of democracy in South Africa, is in the hospital,” Zuma said. “We need him to be with us and I’m sure, knowing him as I do, he’s a good fighter and he’ll be with us very soon.”

Today marks 49 years to the day since Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government of South Africa.

Mandela would spend the next 18 years on the remote Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town, where he and other African National Congress activists lived in harsh conditions.

Later transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town, he contracted tuberculosis. In total he was jailed for 27 years for his beliefs, becoming the undisputed face of the anti-apartheid struggle.

Released in 1990, Madiba, as he is known among many South Africans, went onto become the first black president of South Africa in free and open elections four years later before stepping down in 1999.

Since being hospitalised, Mandela has been visited by former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and their daughter Zindzi. His two other daughters paid him a visit on Sunday, while his current wife Graca Machel has been by his bedside since his admission to hospital last week.

Zuma told SABC last night that he had received a detailed briefing from Mandela’s doctors and said they were doing “a very good job”.

- additional reporting from AFP

Yesterday: Nelson Mandela’s condition unchanged as he faces fourth day in hospital

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