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Mandela in ‘no immediate danger’, but faces more tests

Ailing anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela will remain in hospital for a third day Monday and receive further undisclosed tests, but was comfortable and in “no immediate danger,” the South African government said.

There is “no immediate danger to him at this stage,” said Sonwabo Mbananga, a spokesman for the ministry of defence, which is responsible for the 94-year-old’s health care.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula visited Mandela earlier Monday at the country’s leading military hospital in Pretoria and found the 94-year-old former president “in good spirits.”

“He is comfortable, he continues to receive treatment which… (is) routine and that should be expected of a person of his senior age,” Mbananga told AFP.

Mandela was airlifted to the One Military Hospital in Pretoria from his home village of Qunu in southeast of the country on Saturday.

The presidency said Mandela would take additional tests on Monday, but officials have kept their silence on the procedures involved and have not given specifics about his medical condition.

It was unclear if the ailing former president would spend a third night in hospital.

“That (decision) is still in the hands of the doctors…. They are saying they are doing further tests,” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told AFP, adding he did not know what kind of tests were being conducted.

Mandela was said to be very comfortable following a visit to the hospital by President Jacob Zuma on Sunday.

But it is not the first health scare for the nonagenarian, who in February spent a night in hospital for a minor exploratory procedure to probe persistent abdominal pain.

In January 2011, Mandela had the country on edge when he was admitted for two nights for an acute respiratory infection.

He was discharged in a stable condition for home-based care and intense medical monitoring.

Madiba, as he is affectionately known by South Africans, retains a prominent place in the national psyche, despite leaving office more than a decade ago — a lifetime ago in the quick-moving politics of this born-again nation.

But South Africans united to offer prayers for the ailing national icon, who was the country’s first black president.

“Nation prays for Madiba” was the front-page headline in the Sowetan daily attempting to capture the zeitgeist of a nation.

“We love Madiba, we feel every inch of anxiety, stress and pain with the rest of his close and distant family. And like concerned loved ones, we want to know how he is doing.”

The Star had a front-page picture of a sand sculpture with a “get well soon” message inscribed next to a sand portrait of Mandela built on a beach in India.

Despite the mudslinging by the opposition aimed at the ruling ANC in the build-up to the party’s key conference, political parties are joining in the chorus of prayers to wish Mandela well.

“When Mandela is admitted to hospital, all of us get affected because we love and care for him,” said the main opposition Democratic Alliance spokesman Mmusi Maimane.

But there was also a level of resignation about Mandela’s fate — in contrast to the panic of previous health scares — and a sense that Mandela must now be left in peace.

“Dear South Africans Please let Nelson Mandela go, he is old now and deserves to rest,” @ComradeESETHU from Cape Town wrote on Twitter.

The anti-apartheid hero became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after 27 years of incarceration.

He has since retired to his rural childhood village since leaving office.