Johanneburg • Former South African President Nelson Mandela was hospitalized early Saturday for treatment of a recurring lung infection, the South African government said. It was the fourth time in less than a year that the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader had been hospitalized, deepening concern about his increasing frailty.
“During the past few days former President Nelson Mandela has had a recurrence of lung infection,” President Jacob Zuma said in a statement. “This morning at about 1:30 a.m. his condition deteriorated and he was transferred to a Pretoria hospital. He remains in a serious but stable condition.”
Mandela has suffered from lung problems since contracting tuberculosis during his 27-year imprisonment for fighting apartheid. Mandela emerged from prison in 1990 to lead the African National Congress in negotiating an end to white rule, and in 1994 he was elected South Africa’s first black president.
He served just one term, stepping aside in 1999. He has been largely absent from public life since 2004 and was last seen publicly in 2010 during the World Cup, which South Africa hosted.
As his health has deteriorated, an increasingly ugly battle over his legacy and money has erupted, with two of his daughters suing a confidant, George Bizos, over access to a trust fund that Mandela set up for his descendants. Even the ANC, the party to which Mandela dedicated his life, has come under harsh criticism for releasing a video of party leaders visiting the visibly ailing former president.