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President Zuma's Office: Nelson Mandela in Critical Condition

Nelson Mandela
The South African government says former president Nelson Mandela is now in a critical condition.

In a statement Sunday evening, the office of President Jacob Zuma said the president visited Mr. Mandela at a Pretoria Hospital accompanied by the ruling African National Congress Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

“They were briefed by the medical team who informed them that the former president's condition had become critical over the past 24 hours,” read part of the statement.

It further said President Zuma and Mr. Ramaphosa also met with Mrs. Graca Machel at the hospital and discussed Mandela’s condition.

"The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba (Mandela) is well-looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands,” said President Zuma in the statement.

In the statement, Zuma also discussed the government's acknowledgement a day earlier that an ambulance carrying Mandela to the hospital two weeks ago had engine trouble, requiring the former president to be transferred to another ambulance for his journey to the hospital.

The statement said President Zuma and Mr. Ramaphosa were assured by the doctors that when the ambulance transporting former President Mandela to hospital on June 8th developed engine problems, all care was taken to ensure that his medical condition was not compromised.

"There were seven doctors in the convoy who were in full control of the situation throughout the period. He had expert medical care. The fully equipped military ICU ambulance had a full complement of specialist medical staff including intensive care specialists and ICU nurses. The doctors also dismissed the media reports that Madiba suffered cardiac arrest. There is no truth at all in that report," said President Zuma.

The statement further said President Zuma has “appealed to the nation and the world to pray for Madiba, the family and the medical team that is attending to him during this difficult time.”

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj was not responding to calls Sunday evening. This statement was posted on the website of the South African president and also the website of the respected Nelson Mandela Center of Memory. The Center which has close links with the state, promotes social justice, peace, human rights and democracy.

Mr. Mandela was jailed for 27 years under white racist rule and was released in 1990. He then played a leading role in steering the divided country from the apartheid era to democracy, becoming South Africa's first black president in all-race elections in 1994.

As a result of his sacrifice and peacemaking efforts, he is seen by many around the world as a symbol of reconciliation.

Open this link to view full statement posted on the presidential website.