South Africa: Day Four for Madiba in Hospital

Photo: Nelson Mandela Foundation/SAPA
Nelson Mandela in June 2009.

Johannesburg — Former president Nelson Mandela's hospital stay went into its fourth day on Tuesday, with his wife, Graca Machel, telling a broadcaster it pained her to see him lose his "sparkle".

She told eNCA it was painful for her to see her husband's health deteriorate.

"To see him ageing... it pains you. You understand and you know it has to happen... The spirit and the sparkle, you see that somehow it's fading," she said in an interview on Monday.

Journalists continued camping outside One Military Hospital on the outskirts of Pretoria on Tuesday morning. Soldiers were stopping and searching cars at the main entrance.

News crews, including an outside broadcast vehicle, were turned back at the entrance. Several journalists waited metres from the security checkpoint.

On Monday, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said Mandela was "doing very, very well" while undergoing unspecified medical tests.

She offered the first government confirmation that Mandela, who had received military medical care since 2011, was at that hospital.

On Monday the presidency said Mandela was fine and was due for further tests.

On Saturday, Zuma's office announced Mandela had been admitted to a Pretoria hospital for medical tests and care that was "consistent for his age".

Zuma visited Mandela on Sunday morning at the hospital and found the former leader "comfortable and in good care," presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement. The condition the tests were related to had not been disclosed.

The hospital stay of South Africa's first black president was being watched by media around the world including the LA Times, the Telegraph, Hindustan Times, and Zimbabwe Independent.

The Washington Post included a CBS newsclip in which their reporter described him as having been "physically robust" but "mentally detached" at his 94th birthday celebration which they attended.

The Brisbane Times posted a video package of footage of him beaming with fellow African National Congress officials four years ago.

In February, Mandela spent a night in a hospital for a minor diagnostic surgery to determine the cause of an abdominal complaint. In January 2011 Mandela was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital for what officials initially described as tests, but what turned out to be an acute respiratory infection.

Mandela has had other health problems. He contracted tuberculosis during his years in prison and had surgery for an enlarged prostate gland in 1985. In 2001, Mandela underwent seven weeks of radiation therapy for prostate cancer.

Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for fighting racist white rule, became South Africa's first black president in 1994 and served one five-year term.

The Nobel laureate later retired from public life to live in the remote village of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape. He made a last public appearance when South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament.

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