Mandela, 93, hospitalized with stomach ailment
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Former South African President Nelson Mandela was hospitalized Saturday for a test to determine what is behind an undisclosed stomach ailment, and the country’s current leader said the much beloved 93-year-old icon was in no danger.
Mandela, a Nobel peace laureate who spent 27 years in prison for fighting racist white rule, has officially retired and last appeared in public in July 2010. He became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 and served one five-year term.
Mandela “has had a long-standing abdominal complaint and doctors feel it needs proper specialist medical attention,” President Jacob Zuma said in a statement Saturday morning, asking that Mandela’s privacy be respected.
The statements did not say at which hospital Mandela was being treated, apparently to protect his privacy, but that did not stop journalists from camping out at a military hospital in the capital, Pretoria, on the chance he might be there. In 2011, Mandela spent a few days in a private Johannesburg hospital with an acute respiratory infection.
Mandela “just had abdominal pains for some time now and the doctors decided a while ago that perhaps they should admit him, with a view to check those abdominal pains, so it wasn’t an emergency admission,” Khoza told reporters. “He’s fine, he’s in good health.”
Kemper said he fought the ANC as a soldier for the apartheid state. On Saturday, Kemper was touring Soweto, the famed Johannesburg township set aside for blacks under apartheid and still largely black and poor, with a group of other whites. Kemper marveled at how far the country had come, and credited Mandela.
Kemper said he believed that even though Mandela has largely retired from public life, he has a moderating influence on younger black South Africans who may be impatient with the pace of change in a country where the black majority remains poor. Kemper said he worried about whether the commitment to reconciliation would outlive Mandela.
But Kefiloe Molepo, a 19-year-old student who grew up just around the corner from Mandela’s home, said there was little cause for concern. Molepo, walking home from church, said he was raised on stories about Mandela, who he said was a friend of his great-grandfather.