JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Nelson Mandela has been admitted to a hospital for tests “consistent with his old age” and is doing well, the office of South Africa’s president announced Saturday.
“Former President Nelson Mandela has today, 8 December 2012, been admitted in hospital in Pretoria to undergo tests,” Jacob Zuma’s office announced. He “is doing well and there is no cause for alarm,” it added.
“Mandela will receive medical attention from time to time which is consistent with his age,” said the statement.
Zuma himself wished Mandela the best, assuring his medical team of “our support as they look after and ensure the comfort of our beloved founding President of a free and democratic South Africa.”
But officials refused to say which hospital he was at, appealing for privacy.
The revered statesman, who turned 94 in July, has not appeared in public since South Africa’s Football World Cup final in 2010.
Rumours of his failing health or even death flare up periodically, forcing the government to issue assurances that all is well.
His last hospitalisation was in February when he spent a night in hospital for a minor exploratory procedure to investigate persistent abdominal pain.
He was flown from his rural home village of Qunu to the capital Pretoria, around 900 kilometres (560 miles) away.
Mandela, once a spry boxer who stayed fit during his 27 years in prison by doing calisthenics in his cell, has grown increasingly frail.
In 1993, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the last white president, FW de Klerk.
A year later, he crowned his long fight against white-minority rule by becoming the country’s first black president with the end of apartheid. Mandela served as president until 1999, handing over to Thabo Mbeki.
In January 2011, Mandela was admitted for a chest infection, sparking public panic and a media frenzy as the government and Mandela’s charitable foundation refused to release information on his condition.
Since last year, the revered statesman has been spending most of his time at his Qunu birth village, in the Eastern Cape province.
Lately he has received visits from US Secretary if State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former US president Bill.
President Zuma and his former wife, now the African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
They have all reported that the revered leader is doing well and in good spirits.
In May, a smiling Mandela made a television appearance when he received a symbolic flame to mark the ruling ANC’s centenary at his home.