, QUNU, Jun 15 – Nelson Mandela seems to be on the road to recovery from a recurrent lung infection, a grandson said Saturday after visiting the anti-apartheid hero in hospital.
Mandla Mandela said his 94-year-old grandfather “looked good” when he visited him in a Pretoria hospital along with two elders.
“It gave us hope that he is going to recover soon,” Mandla Mandela said at the funeral of a cousin in Qunu, Mandela’s hometown in the east of the country.
Mourners at the funeral of Florence Mandela, who died last week aged 97, prayed and sang hymns for the ailing statesman.
The priest leading the service said a special prayer and called on the mourners to observe a moment of silence for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate as he spent an eighth day in hospital.
“We would like to assure you of our prayers for the icon, for the father of this nation,” Reverend Manciya told the Mandela family.
“We are praying for his recovery. We are praying that you be next to his every minute, every hour and every moment,” he said.
One mourner, Zine Mgavu, 50, said he trusted the latest information on the health of the frail statesman “because it came from a family member”.
“We’re feeling great, it gives us hope that he will come back home,” said Mgavu, a Qunu resident.
Elizabeth Mshweshwe, 77, who is related to the Mandelas also welcomed news.
“We were so happy and we are hoping that he is going to be better,” said Mshweshwe, adding that they still want to stay with him.
On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma said Mandela’s health “continues to improve” but he “remains serious” after paying him a visit. No new update from the government has been released.
Mandela has a long history of lung problems since being diagnosed with early-stage tuberculosis in 1988 during his 27 years in prison at the hands of the apartheid regime.
Experts say that infection makes him vulnerable to recurrent lung infections.
In December he underwent surgery to remove gallstones as he recovered from a lung infection. Then in March he was admitted for a scheduled overnight check-up before returning to hospital later that month for 10 days.
Messages of support have been pouring in for the leader who became the country’s first black president in 1994.
Last week a small group of people held a candlelight vigil overnight outside the private clinic in Pretoria, while schoolchildren left flowers outside the gate of his Johannesburg home.