Former South African president Nelson Mandela has been hospitalized for a longstanding abdominal condition.
South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement that Mandela was admitted to the hospital Saturday. His spokesman Max Maharaj explained this was not an emergency.
“Mandela has been admitted to hospital this morning. He has had a long-standing abdominal complaint and it needs proper specialist medical attention,” said the spokesman.
Maharaj has urged that the privacy of the 93-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner be respected.
“And we are wishing him speedy recovery, assuring him of the love and good wishes of all South Africans and people throughout the world. In the meantime we are requesting from the public to respect the privacy of Madiba and that of his family during this period,” he said.
The government has refused to elaborate on Mandela’s condition, but Maharaj says further information may be released when the president receives a report from Mandela’s doctors.
He declined to say in which hospital Mandela is being treated, but it is likely in the Johannesburg area. Mandela recently returned to the city after a 7-month stay at his family home in the Eastern Cape province village of Qunu.
African National Congress party spokesman Keith Khoza said there is “no need to worry” and that Mandela’s treatment was pre-planned.
Mandela was last seen in public at the closing match of the 2010 World Cup, but photographs of him with family members are released from time to time. Most recently, last September, he was photographed with his newly born great-grandson.
Last year Mandela was hospitalized for three days for an acute respiratory infection, or bronchitis, but the government was widely condemned for inept handling of the situation. Critics said an unnecessary crisis was created because the government failed to keep the public informed.
Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994, ending racist apartheid rule.