, JOHANNESBURG, August 31- South Africa’s presidency on Saturday denied reports that Nelson Mandela had been discharged from hospital and had returned to his Johannesburg home.
“Madiba is still in hospital in Pretoria, and remains in a critical but stable condition,” President Jacob Zuma’s spokesman said in a statement, denying reports from several news organisations that he had left the facility.
“At times his condition becomes unstable, but he responds to medical interventions.”
During Mandela’s 80-plus days in hospital, the presidency through Maharaj has been the official source of information about the condition of the 95-year-old anti-apartheid icon.
But updates have been infrequent and have offered few details, prompting frequent speculation.
At the end of July, Zuma’s office said Mandela was continuing to show signs of improvement after scares were reported.
Mandela was rushed to hospital on June 8 for a respiratory infection and has remained in critical condition for most of the time since.
His lung problems date back to his 27 years in apartheid jail, where he contracted tuberculosis as a political prisoner.
Madiba, as he is known by his clan name, has been in and out of hospital since last year, with lung related complications.
In December, he spent nearly three weeks in hospital where he was treated for a lung infection and gall stones.
But this is his longest hospitalisation since he walked free from jail in 1990 and went on to become the country’s first leader to be elected in all-race elections.
The global icon has received an outpouring of messages of support including prayers from clergymen and the general public.
Family members including his wife Graca Machel and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela have been visiting his bedside at the private hospital in the capital Pretoria.
Hundred of people gathered outside the facility on his 95th birthday to wish him well and sing songs.
Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, after leading talks that ended the white minority rule. He only served a single four year term as president, stepping down in 1999.
The increasingly frail leader retired from public life in 2004 and has spent his time between his rural home in the Eastern Cape region and Johannesburg.