South African icon Nelson Mandela, 93, underwent a diagnostic probe for an abdominal problem and is doing “fine” on his second day in hospital on Sunday, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said.
“He had investigative laparoscopy,” a procedure in which the abdominal area is probed by tiny cameras inserted through small incisions, Sisulu told a press conference.
“He’s fine, he is recovering from anaesthetic and he is as fine as can be at his age. He is fine and handsome.”
Sisulu, whose ministry is responsible for the medical treatment of the former statesman, would not say when Mandela would be released, with officials also keeping secret the name of the hospital where he is being treated.
“If we had it our way, he would be home by now because he is fine,” she told reporters.
President Jacob Zuma on Saturday said Mandela was not in danger and was expected to be released Sunday or Monday after he was admitted for a long-standing abdominal complaint.
Mandela had undergone the probe because of ongoing discomfort, but the anti-apartheid icon’s health was fine, Sisulu said.
“There never was anything wrong with him,” she said.
“The only way that we could finally get to the bottom of this is by taking him to hospital and having a number of tests to find out if in fact what was prescribed, what we were giving him, was working and if we could not make it any better.”
Rumours that Mandela had undergone hernia surgery were firmly ruled out.
“It wasn’t the surgery that has been out there in the media at all,” Sisulu said.
Secretary for defence Sam Gulube, a medical doctor, told AFP the procedure was regarded as non-invasive or minimally invasive and “simply means examination of the abdomen using a camera.” He said Mandela was not operated on.
Rumours over Mandela’s health flare up periodically, sparking fears over the beloved icon, who is revered as a symbol of South Africa’s post-apartheid reconciliation and regarded internationally as a hero.
In December, the presidency had to issue an assurance of his health after archive television footage of his January 2011 hospitalisation spurred a series of tweets mistakenly announcing new health concerns.
An architect of the African National Congress’ struggle against apartheid, he was released from 27 years of prison in 1990 and elected South Africa’s first black president four years later. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and served one term before stepping down in 1999.