Mandela's release from hospital calms South Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Revered elder statesman Nelson Mandela, 92, returned to his home Friday after being released from hospital where he received treatment for an acute respiratory infection.
Mandela is "in good spirits and was joking with us and teasing Graca and Mama Winnie and the sisters (nurses)," said South Africa's deputy president Kgaleme Mothlanthe.
Concern over the health of the anti-apartheid icon had mounted to a level of frenzy in South Africa and around the world. Motlanthe said that in future the South African government will keep the public better informed.
"From now onwards we will keep you posted if there are any developments of whatever kind," said Motlanthe at a press conference Friday. "With the wisdom of hindsight, indeed we could have handled this matter differently." He added that he hopes Mandela will "be with us to celebrate his 93rd birthday in July and beyond.”
South Africa's Surgeon General Vejaynand Ramlaken gave a detailed description of Mandela's condition.

“He recently developed an acute respiratory infection for which he received treatment and is recovering very well," said Ramlaken, who added that Mandela suffered from tuberculosis when he was jailed on Robben Island. He said that Mandela did not receive any sort of assisted breathing or ventilation.
“When you’re 92 years old, what is routine is very different to whenyou are 19,” said Ramlaken. He said it was not the first time Mandela has had a respiratory infection. Eight years ago Mandela was treated at the same Milpark Hospital for one.

“For a 92 year old he surprises us on a daily basis with his powers of recovery,” said Ramlaken.“Despite all of this, his amazing positive attitude allows him to cope with the difficulties of old age with the greatest of graces.”

He said Mandela will received care at his home in Houghton, a posh Johannesburg suburb.
The surgeon general reiterated that in future he will issue a regular bulletin on Mandela's health, if there are any changes.
“There was a lot of anxiety from the family to come and be with him,” said grandson Mandla Mandela to the press conference. "We were with him in Cape Town and in Qunu where he spent his Christmas holidays."
Concern over Mandela, an apartheid-era icon, remained high when he was in hospital Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Mandela was admitted to the Milpark hospital in  Johannesburg for what were described as "routine medical tests."

The former South African president was admitted to the hospital Wednesday and South African media report that he had been seen by a specialist pulmonologist who treats respiratory disorders.

The media gathered outside the Milpark hospital on Thursday to wait for news.

President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) appealed for calm after the hospitalisation set off speculation in local media about Mandela's health.

Mandela, the first black president of South Africa and one of the world's most revered statesmen, lives in Johannesburg.

He spent 27 years in prison after being arrested for plotting an armed struggle against the apartheid government. His release in 1990 paved the way for the end of white rule and he became president in 1994.

He stepped down after one term in power in 1999 and retired from public life in June 2004 ahead of his 86th birthday, telling his adoring compatriots: "Don't call me, I'll call you."

Since then he has rarely appeared in public and when he did, appeared increasingly frail.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma did not return from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner was last seen in public at the soccer World Cup Final in July last year, when he was briefly driven around the field on the back of a golf cart.

Close family members, including his wife Graca Machel, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, visited him while he was in hospital, prompting speculation that his condition was worse than initially reported.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu sparked intense debate earlier Wednesday about Mandela's health after he replied to questions from reporters. "I saw him last week," Archbishop Tutu said in Cape Town. "He was all right — I mean, he's 92, man, you know? And he's frail."

Editor's note: GlobalPost's series about Nelson Mandela's home village describes South Africa's past and points the way toward its future. Where tradition vies with modern leadership. Where Mandela was no saint. Where rural poverty persists. Where Mandela’s legacy inspires future leaders.

Mandela Village Mandela Village Mandela Village

Traditional ways


Rural poverty Road from Qunu