Mandela to stay near Johannesburg for care
JOHANNESBURG Doctors treating former South African leader Nelson Mandela believe he should remain in Johannesburg for now to be close to medical facilities that can provide care to the 94-year-old.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said Thursday doctors think it is "necessary and good" that Mandela, who was released from a hospital Wednesday evening, stay in his home in the Johannesburg neighborhood of Houghton. The anti-apartheid icon will continue to receive care there.
Maharaj spoke to eNCA, a South African television news channel.
In recent years, Mandela has lived in the village of Qunu, in Eastern Cape province, where he grew up.
Mandela was admitted Dec. 8 to a hospital, where he was treated for a lung infection and also had a procedure to remove gallstones.
In recent days, officials have said he was improving and in good spirits, but doctors have taken extraordinary care with his health because of his age.
When Mandela was discharged, Maharaj said in a statement, "We thank the public and the media for the good wishes and for according Madiba and the family the necessary privacy," using Mandela's clan name, a term of affection. The statement requested that Mandela's privacy continue to be respected "in order to allow for the best possible conditions for full recovery."
David Phetoe, a resident of the Johannesburg township of Soweto, reacted with joy when he heard that Mandela was no longer in a hospital.
"It's not always the case, when people offer great expectations, that those expectations are fulfilled," he said. "In this case, we say in the same tone, in the Christmas mood and in the Christmas season, let him stick around for a while!"
Mandela is revered around the world as a symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation, his legacy forged in the fight against apartheid, the system of white minority rule that imprisoned him for 27 years.
The Nobel laureate served one five-year term as president after South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994. Although the country today struggles with poverty and inequality, Mandela is widely credited with helping to avert race-driven chaos as South Africa emerged from apartheid.
South African President Jacob Zuma was among those who joined Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, and other family members in wishing a Merry Christmas to Mandela at his hospital bedside in Pretoria, the South African capital.
"I think he is an icon of hope and we are very excited" that Mandela is out of the hospital, said Sipho Sibiko, a Soweto resident. "I personally know that he is one of the people that inspired me. He inspires a lot of people and we are excited that he has been released. We wish him many more joyous years and good health."
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