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Nelson Mandela’s health is gradually improving, South African President Jacob Zuma says, in the first government update on his health in two weeks.
In a statement from Mr Zuma’s office, the president said Mr Mandela, affectionately known in the country as “Madiba”, was making a “slow but steady improvement.”
The 95-year-old anti-apartheid leader, who recently spent his birthday in the Pretoria hospital, is still in a critical condition, President Zuma added. He also thanked South Africans for praying for the former president.
On Friday, Mandela’s youngest daughter told state broadcaster SABC that her father’s health was improving daily, and that he was able to sit up for minutes at a time.
“Tata now manages to sit up, like now he is able to sit up in a chair for a few minutes in a day. Every day you know, he is becoming more alert, more responsive and so on,” she said.
So far, the South African government has released few details on Mandela’s illness, citing privacy issues. Legal documents filed by the family of the anti-apartheid leader have said he was on life support.
Mixed messages have emerged from his family, with some suggesting that the leader could return to his home in Johannesburg soon.
Mr Mandela is spending his 65th day in hospital after being admitted in June for the recurrence of a lung infection.