Nelson Mandela’s condition in a hospital in the South African capital, Pretoria, has “become critical,” the office of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said.
Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, has been in the hospital for the last 16 days receiving treatment for a lung infection.
Zuma and the ruling African National Congress’ deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, visited Mandela today where they were informed about the 94-year-old’s deterioration, the presidency said in an e-mailed statement.
“They were briefed by the medical team, who informed them that the former president’s condition had become critical over the past 24 hours,” the presidency said.
Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison on charges related to his opposition against apartheid, became president after the country’s first all-race elections in 1994, which the African National Congress won. It is the fourth time he’s been hospitalized since December.
Yesterday the presidency confirmed a CBS News report that an ambulance transporting him to the hospital on June 8 broke down. In today’s statement it denied that he had had a cardiac arrest, as reported by CBS.
Mandela, who is also known by his clan name Madiba, won the Nobel Peace Prize with FW de Klerk, the last leader of South Africa in the apartheid era, in 1993. He stood down after five years as leader and was succeeded by Thabo Mbeki, who had served as deputy president.
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“The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well looked after and is comfortable,” Zuma said in the statement. “He is in good hands.”