Former South African president Nelson Mandela‘s health has improved and he is responding well to treatment for a lung infection, according to the office of the president of South Africa.
Mandela was hospitalized for three days but is now able to breathe without problems. Dating back to the days of his 1964 political imprisonment, Mandela has had a long history of lung issues–a side effect of contracting tuberculosis while serving 18 years on Robben Island.
Known widely by his clan name “Madiba” in South Africa, former president Jacob Zuma’s office spoke of Mandela’s improving health on Saturday: “Madiba [Mandela] is now able to breathe without difficulty. He continues to respond to treatment and is comfortable.”
The 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero and first black South African president is believed to be at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria. Health problems have plagued Mandela since late last year. This is Mandela’s third hospital stay in four months.
But earlier this week, Zuma stressed that people should not be worried about Mandela’s health. “Of course I have been saying to people, you should bear in mind Madiba is no longer that young and if he goes for check-ups every now and again, I don’t think people must be alarmed about it,” he said. “I would like to really say the country must not panic.”
When questioned about the possibility of Mandela succumbing to his illness, Zuma replied: “In Zulu, when someone passes away who is very old, people say he or she has gone home. I think those are some of the things we should be thinking about.”
However, he reiterated that Mandela has handled the situation extremely well. “Very few outstanding personalities in the world live to his level,” Zuma said.