Nelson Mandela in hospital with respiratory illness
Compiled by Brandon Humber
Former South African President and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela has been admitted to hospital for the third time in four months due to a recurring lung infection.
“Doctors are attending to him, ensuring that he has the best possible expert medical treatment and comfort,” the office of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said in a statement released Thursday.
“We have full confidence in the medical team and know that they will do everything possible to ensure recovery,” said President Zuma in the statement.
A later statement assured that Mandela is “responding positively” to the treatment he is receiving.
Mandela is in hospital in Pretoria, the country’s capital.
“During these trying times we wish President Mandela well and for his family to be strong,” the governing African National Congress said in a statement, the BBC reported.
At 94, Mandela’s health has been waning in recent months. In December, the Nobel laureate was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria for three weeks, suffering from gallstones and an earlier occurrence of the lung infection.
Mandela has struggled with health issues for decades. While imprisoned in 1985, Mandela underwent prostate surgery, in 1988, he was hospitalized for tuberculosis, and in 2001 was treated for prostate cancer.
Mandela, born in 1918, was one of the leading voices against South Africa’s long-held system of racial segregation and white supremacy.
In 1952, he was named the National Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign, a movement of civil disobedience, which led to his first arrest in 1952 for violation of the Suppression of Communism Act.
Later, in 1963, Mandela was put on trial for planning to overthrow the government. Facing the death penalty, he gave what became known to many as his famous Speech from the Dock.
“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die,” Mandela told the court at the time.
27 years in prison
Mandela and seven co-defendants were sentenced to life in prison. He spent 27 years in captivity.
In 1990, when then South African President F.W. de Klerk began dismantling apartheid policies, Mandela was freed. Three years later both men shared the Nobel Peace Prize.
On May 10, 1994, he became South Africa’s first black President, serving until 1999 when he stepped down.
In 2004, Mandela announced that he would retire from public life, making his last large public appearance at the 2010 World Cup.