JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Nelson Mandela has been hospitalized again after a worrying recurrence of the lung infection he suffered in December, the South African president's office said Thursday.
It was the third time Mandela, known affectionately by his clan name, Madiba, has been hospitalized since December. The unexpected late-night admission rang alarm bells for many South Africans.
Mandela — a Nobel Peace Prize winner and South Africa's first black president, who served from 1994 to 1999 — went into an unidentified hospital in Pretoria just before midnight Wednesday. His wife, Graca Machel, was reportedly at his side and he was being made comfortable.
The former president is deeply loved for his role in fighting apartheid and bringing the full rights of citizenship to blacks. Even more, he's revered for fostering peace and reconciliation in South Africa after his release from 27 years in prison, at a time when doomsayers were predicting the country could plunge into civil war.
South African presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said Mandela, 94, was conscious and "responding positively" to treatment for a lung infection that had spread rapidly. He did not comment on the gravity of the former president's condition.
Mandela has had a history of respiratory problems after he suffered tuberculosis during his imprisonment in the apartheid era.