Former South African President Nelson Mandela’s health has taken a turn for the worse in the last 24 hours, according to the country’s current president, Jacob Zuma.
In a statement released Sunday evening, Zuma said he and ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Mandela in hospital, in Johannesburg, where doctors told them the 94-year-old’s condition had become critical in the past day.
“The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well-looked after and is comfortable,” Zuma said. “He is in good hands.”
The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate has been in hospital with a lung infection since June 8.
His health has been failing in the past month, although it was widely reported earlier this week he had been responding better to treatment.
Mandela, who became South Africa’s first black president after the end of apartheid in 1994.
He was jailed for 27 years under white racist rule and was released in 1990. He then played a leading role in steering the divided country from the apartheid era to democracy, becoming South Africa’s first black president in all-race elections in 1994.
As a result of his sacrifice and peacemaking efforts, he is seen by many around the world as a symbol of reconciliation.
Watch: Church goers in South Africa pray as former South African President Nelson Mandela’s condition has now become critical.
Full statement from President Jacob Zuma
The condition of former President Nelson Mandela, who is still in hospital in Pretoria, has become critical.
President Jacob Zuma, accompanied by ANC Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, visited the former President this evening, 23 June in hospital. They were briefed by the medical team who informed them that the former President’s condition had become critical over the past 24 hours.
The President and Mr Ramaphosa also met with Mrs Graca Machel at the hospital and discussed Madiba’s condition.
“The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well-looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands,” said President Zuma.
The President and Mr Ramaphosa were assured by the doctors that when the ambulance transporting former President Mandela to hospital on the 8th of June developed engine problems, all care was taken to ensure that his medical condition was not compromised.
“There were seven doctors in the convoy who were in full control of the situation throughout the period. He had expert medical care. The fully equipped military ICU ambulance had a full complement of specialist medical staff including intensive care specialists and ICU nurses. The doctors also dismissed the media reports that Madiba suffered cardiac arrest. There is no truth at all in that report,” said President Zuma.
President Zuma has appealed to the nation and the world to pray for Madiba, the family and the medical team that is attending to him during this difficult time.
*With files from The Associated Press