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Prayers for Mandela

Releasing doves for Mandela

Releasing doves for Mandela

PRETORIA — The South African government says former President Nelson Mandela’s medical condition remains unchanged.

Mandela, 94, has been in a Pretoria hospital since June 8 being treated for a recurring lung infection, and his condition became critical on Sunday.

“Doctors continue to do their best to ensure his recovery, well-being and comfort,” the latest update said.

The statement came as Mandela’s family members were meeting at his home in the village of Qunu.

His eldest daughter, Makaziwe, and some grandchildren are said to be at the meeting in Eastern Cape province.

Little has emerged from the family meeting, which South African media say was called to discuss “sensitive family business”.

In the latest statement President Zuma thanked the South African public for “ongoing support and understanding”.

His spokesman said on Monday that South Africans should not hold out “false hopes”.

Mandela family members, including grandchildren, have continued to visit him in hospital, where dozens of white doves were released by a local businessman in tribute.

The scene at the hospital, where well-wishers have decorated a wall with flowers and supportive messages, is described as quiet, save for waiting journalists.

It is Mandela’s third stay in hospital this year with lung problems which are thought to date from damage sustained while working in a prison quarry.

He contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while being held in jail on the windy Robben Island.

Mandela is revered for leading the fight against white minority rule in South Africa and then preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years. He left power after five years as the country’s first black president.

He retired from public life in 2004 and has rarely been seen at official events since.

Nelson Mandela: Key dates

1918 Born in the Eastern Cape

1944 Joins African National Congress

1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped

1962 Arrested, convicted of sabotage, sentenced to five years in prison

1964 Charged again, sentenced to life

1990 Freed from prison

1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize

1994 Elected first black president

1999 Steps down as leader (BBC)

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