By NBC News staff
Former South African President Nelson Mandela was hospitalized Saturday after suffering a recurrence of a lung infection, according to a statement released by the nation’s current leader. The statement said the 94-year-old Mandela was in serious but stable condition.
“During the past few days, former President Nelson Mandela has had a recurrence of lung infection,” said the statement by President Jacob Zuma. “This morning at about 1:30 a.m. [7:30 p.m. Friday ET] his condition deteriorated and he was transferred to a Pretoria hospital. He remains in a serious but stable condition.
“The former president is receiving expert medical care and doctors are doing everything possible to make him better and comfortable,” it added.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner and longtime political prisoner led the nation’s battle against the white-minority apartheid government.
Mandela was the first president of the country to be elected following the fall of the apartheid system, leading his country from 1994 to 1999.
He has a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted tuberculosis while being held in the notorious Robben Island jail under the apartheid regime.
Mandela has been in and out of the hospital several times in recent months, most recently being discharged from a hospital on April 6 after having been treated since March 27 for pneumonia and other problems.
Zuma’s African National Congress was recently criticized for allowing a visit by the president and other party leaders with Mandela to be broadcast on national television because of his ailing health.NBC News