In the early hours of Saturday morning, former South African President Nelson Mandela was rushed to the hospital in Pretoria, where officials say the 94-year-old’s condition is “serious, but stable.”
The anti-apartheid leader had a recurrence of his lung infection for the past few days and had been treated by doctors at his home until his condition began to deteriorate, according to a statement released by the nation’s current leader, Jacob Zuma.
“The former president is receiving expert medical care and doctors are doing everything possible to make him better and comfortable,” said Zuma’s statement.
Mac Maharaj, spokesman for the South African presidency, was optimistic about Mandela’s health, saying the revered leader is “breathing on his own,” which he read as a “positive sign.”
“He is a fighter—he has recovered many times from very serious conditions,” Maharaj said of Mandela. “Let’s pray for him, help him get better.”
This is Mandela’s fourth hospital stay in recent months. He was last discharged from a nine-day hospital stay in April after having received pneumonia treatments.
Mandela, who became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate renowned for his 27-year imprisonment in battling his country’s white-minority apartheid government. He has been in poor health for several years and largely absent from the political scene for the past decade.