Nelson Mandela ‘responds well’ in hospital

Nelson Mandela was last night responding positively to hospital treatment for a recurring lung infection.

The office of South African president Jacob Zuma said the former president and anti-apartheid leader remained under observation.

Mr Mandela was admitted late on Wednesday to a hospital in Pretoria, the South African capital.

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Earlier, Mr Zuma said: “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.

“We have full confidence in the medical team and know that they will do everything possible to ensure recovery.”

Mr Mandela contracted tuberculosis during his 27-year imprisonment and has repeatedly suffered lung problems. He has been admitted to hospital several times since last year, most recently earlier this month when he received what a presidential spokesman described as a “successful” test.

Mr Mandela spent a night in a hospital and was released on 10 March after the medical check. At that time, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said he was “well”.

In December, Mr Mandela spent three weeks in hospital as he was treated for a lung infection and had a procedure to remove gallstones.

A year ago, he was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital for an abdominal complaint.

Last night, US President Barack Obama sent his best wishes to Mr Mandela, and called the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader “an inspiration”.

“He is as strong physically as he’s been in character and in leadership over so many decades, and hopefully he will come out of this latest challenge,” Mr Obama told reporters at the White House while meeting four visiting African leaders.