, JOHANNESBURG, Jun 11 – Nelson Mandela faced a fourth day in hospital on Tuesday where he was said to be in a serious but stable condition receiving intensive care for a lung infection, as South Africans come to terms with the mortality of their anti-apartheid hero.
The 94-year-old former president was rushed to a Pretoria hospital early on Saturday, in the latest of a series of health scares that have been met with prayers and increasing concern.
“He is receiving intensive care treatment,” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj, who served jail time with Mandela, told AFP on Monday.
He “remains in hospital, and his condition is unchanged,” the presidency said.
The government had described Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, as being in a “serious but stable” condition on Saturday.
On Monday Mandela was visited by his former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and their daughter Zindzi.
His two other daughters paid him a visit on Sunday, while his current wife Graca Machel has been by his bedside since his admission to hospital.
He is receiving intensive care treatment, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj, who served jail time with Mandela, told AFP on Monday.
Little information has been released about Mandela’s condition, but he has a long history of lung problems since being diagnosed with early-stage tuberculosis in 1988.
It is the fourth hospital stay in seven months for the man beloved as a global symbol of peace and forgiveness and the father of the “Rainbow Nation”.
The African Union Commission chief, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said she has heard that Mandela is “responding positively to treatment.”
“He has done his part. We just pray that he recovers,” said Kennedy Moraga outside a private specialist heart clinic in Pretoria, where he is believed to be receiving treatment.
Meanwhile access to the revered statesman has been restricted to close family members in a bid to reduce the risk of further infections.
In late April, President Jacob Zuma and top party officials were photographed with an unsmiling Mandela looking exceedingly frail at his Johannesburg home.
The visit prompted allegations that the underfire ruling party was exploiting Mandela for political gain.
The ANC – facing 2014 elections – has lost much of its Mandela shine amid widespread corruption, poverty and poor public services.
The party and the government on Monday denied local media reports that they had been barred from visiting Mandela in hospital by the former leader’s entourage.
Maharaj told AFP the authorities wanted “to create a conducive environment for his recovery”.
“Close loved ones are going to him for that reason, that’s all, nothing else,” he said. “He is receiving treatment and we want him to receive the treatment in the best condition for his family.”
“They would like to limit the flow of visitors.