JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — After three days of silence on the illness of national icon Nelson Mandela, South African President Jacob Zuma's office issued a three-line statement Tuesday announcing that the anti-apartheid hero and Nobel Peace Prize winner is suffering from a lung infection.
Mandela's hospitalization Saturday for medical tests caused national alarm. Zuma's office said Monday that the former president was "in good hands" without commenting on his condition.
On Tuesday, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said new tests indicated that the 94-year-old Mandela was suffering from a recurrence of a previous lung infection.
"Doctors have concluded the tests, and these have revealed a recurrence of a previous lung infection, for which Madiba is receiving appropriate treatment and he is responding to the treatment," he said, referring to Mandela by his clan name.
"President Zuma thanks the public for continuous support to former President Mandela and his family at this time."
Anxiety rose late Monday after Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, was reported as telling a local television station that it was painful to watch her husband's health deteriorate.
"To see him aging, it pains you. You understand and you know it has to happen. The spirit and the sparkle, you see that somehow it's fading," she said.
By late Tuesday, however, the television station said Machel's comments were from a 2009 interview.