[ 2012-02-26 ]
Mandela 'fine' after minor diagnostic procedure
CAPE TOWN (AFP) - Nelson Mandela is fine after a
minor diagnostic procedure to probe persistent
abdominal pain, South Africa's defence minister
said on Sunday as the country anxiously awaited
his release from hospital.
The 93-year-old former president was hospitalised
Saturday for what President Jacob Zuma's office
described as "a long-standing abdominal
complaint", putting South Africa on edge over the
increasingly frail health of its beloved icon.
Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, whose ministry is
charged with Mandela's health care, said the
anti-apartheid hero had undergone diagnostic
laparoscopy, a procedure in which doctors probe
the abdominal area using a tiny camera.
"He's fine, he is recovering from anaesthetic and
he is as fine as can be at his age. He is fine and
handsome," Sisulu told a press conference in Cape
"If we had it our way, he would be home by now
because he is fine."
Secretary for defence Sam Gulube, a doctor, told
AFP the procedure was regarded as non-invasive or
minimally invasive and "simply means examination
of the abdomen using a camera." He said Mandela
was not operated on.
South African President Jacob Zuma had said
Saturday that Mandela would be discharged either
Sunday or Monday, but neither Sisulu nor Zuma's
office had an update on his release Sunday
"Let's work on the basis that no news is good
news," presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told the
Sapa news agency.
"Doctors are thinking of releasing him today or
tomorrow, but I'm sure they will want to err on
the side of caution."
The government or family has refused to say where
Mandela was hospitalised and called for his
privacy to be respected.
Small crowds of journalists were gathered Sunday
at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, where Mandela
was hospitalised last year, and outside a military
hospital in Pretoria, as well as at his
The media were kept at a distance from both
hospitals and forbidden to take pictures of the
South Africa's front pages carried concerned
headlines on Sunday but urged readers to stay
"Don't panic," urged the City Press in a banner
"World holds its breath, but Madiba 'fine and
fully conscious,' says President Jacob Zuma," read
the Sunday Times' front page.
The media generally praised the government for
handling the episode better than Mandela's last
hospitalisation, in January 2011, when the
government and the Nelson Mandela Foundation kept
media largely in the dark about his treatment for
an acute respiratory infection.
But The Sunday Independent criticised the secrecy
around Mandela's health as inconsistent with his
legacy of openness.
"Mandela, given his iconic stature and his
humility as the servant of the people, insisted
that the nation be informed about his condition"
when he had cataract surgery in 1994 and was
treated for prostate cancer in 2001, it said in an
Mandela is beloved in South Africa for leading the
country from the dark days of white-minority rule
to democracy, and commands huge respect as an
Rumours over his health flare up periodically, and
his public appearances have grown increasingly
rare. The last was at the final of the 2010 World
Cup in South Africa.
In December, the presidency had to issue an
assurance over Mandela's health after archive
television footage of his January 2011
hospitalisation spurred a series of tweets
mistakenly announcing new health concerns.
Mandela was released from 27 years in prison in
1990 and was elected South Africa's first black
president four years later. He won the Nobel Peace
Prize in 1993 and served one term before stepping
down in 1999.
Source - AFP
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