President Jacob Zuma says doctors are doing “everything possible” to improve health of 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon.
The South African presidency says the health condition of Nelson Mandela has become critical.
The office of President Jacob Zuma said that the president had visited the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader on Sunday evening, and was informed by the medical team that Mandela’s condition had become critical in the past 24 hours.
“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.”
Zuma said in the statement that the doctors were “doing everything possible to get his condition to improve”.
When he was first taken to hospital in early June, reports said the ambulance carrying Mandela had broken down.
In Sunday’s statement, Zuma also discussed the government’s acknowledgement a day earlier that an ambulance carrying Mandela to the Pretoria hospital two weeks ago had engine trouble, requiring the former president to be transferred to another ambulance for his journey.
Zuma said that in that incident, “all care was taken to ensure that his medical condition was not compromised”.
He also dismissed media reports that Mandela had suffered a heart attack, saying: “There is no truth at all in that report”.
Mandela, who became South Africa’s first black president after the end of apartheid in 1994, was hospitalised on June 8 for what the government said was a recurring lung infection.
Caitlin Hayden, the US National Security Council spokesperson at the White House responded to the news on Sunday night saying that thoughts and prayers were with the people of South Africa.
“We have seen the latest reports from the South African Government that former President Mandela is in critical condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and the people of South Africa.”
A day earlier, the anti-apartheid icon’s grandson Mandla Mandela, said his grandfather was getting better and was expected to be discharged from hospital soon.
Family members have been seen making daily visits to the hospital where Mandela is being treated.
Mandela, who has become increasingly frail in recent years, last made a public appearance at the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament, which was hosted by South Africa.
He did not deliver an address on that occasion and was bundled against the cold in a stadium full of fans at the time.