JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Nelson Mandela was in serious but stable condition in a Pretoria hospital for the third day Monday with a recurring lung infection, and a foundation led by retired archbishop Desmond Tutu described the 94-year-old anti-apartheid hero as an “extraordinary gift” to South Africa.
As family members visited South Africa’s first black president in the hospital, the government announced — in only the second communication on Mandela since he was hospitalized on Saturday — that his condition was “unchanged.”
A statement issued for the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation described Mandela as “the beloved father of our nation” and offered prayers for a man seen by many around the world as a symbol of reconciliation because of his peacemaking role when white racist rule ended in South Africa.
Mandela “once again endures the ravages of time in hospital,” said the Cape Town-based foundation, which was founded by Tutu and his wife Leah to promote peace. “We offer our thanks to God for the extraordinary gift of Mr. Mandela, and wish his family strength.”
Tutu, 81, was also vigorous campaigner against apartheid, which ended when all-race elections were held in 1994 and Mandela president. Like Mandela, Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts on behalf of his compatriots. Mandela shared his prize with F.W. de Klerk, the last president of the apartheid era.
“We send our blessings to the doctors and nurses responsible for his care,” Tutu’s foundation said.