Nelson Mandela breathing easier, say officials

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NELSON Mandela is being treated in hospital for the effects of pneumonia, it was revealed yesterday.

The former South African president, 94, had suffered a recurrence of the chest infection which had previously hospitalised him, spokesman Mac Maharaj said.

South African officials had previously not specified Mandela had pneumonia, saying instead that he had a lung infection.

Mr Mandela’s medical team reported that the ­increasingly frail Mandela “had developed a pleural ­effusion which was tapped”, Maharaj, a spokesman for president Jacob Zuma’s office said.

He added: “This has resulted in him now being able to breathe without difficulty. He continues to respond to treatment and is comfortable.”

The president’s office thanked all who have prayed for Mandela and his family and have sent messages of support.

Mandela was admitted to a hospital in the capital, Pretoria, late on Wednesday. It was his third admission to hospital since ­December, when he was treated for a lung infection and also underwent a procedure to remove gallstones. Earlier this month, he spent a night in a hospital for what officials said was a scheduled medical test.

Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after elections were held, bringing an end to the apartheid era of white racist rule.

He had spent 27 years in prison under the apartheid regime and, after his release in 1990, was widely credited with averting even greater bloodshed by helping the country in the transition to democratic rule.

Previous bulletins since he was taken to hospital late on Wednesday have reported him responding well, in “good spirits”.

They have appeared to indicate that the recurrence of the lung infection afflicting Mandela is being ­successfully treated.