South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement: “Former president Nelson Mandela was admitted to hospital today, the 25th February 2012.”
“Madiba has had a long-standing abdominal complaint and doctors feel it needs proper specialist medical attention.”
Reporters have converged outside 1 Military Hospital, a healthcare facility in the capital, Pretoria. The military in South Africa is responsible for the health care of all former presidents and Mil One – as it is locally known – is the biggest of its kind in the region.
“But it is an issue that the doctors treating him felt needed specialist attention, and so arrangements were made accordingly.”
He would not confirm reports that Mr Mandela had undergone overnight surgery for a hernia, and appealed for “co-operation from the public and the media so we manage this thing properly”.
The statesman’s eldest granddaughter said she was not immediately concerned about his health.
“I don’t see it as a big thing. When I saw him on Wednesday, he was in good spirits, in perfect health, and the epitome of health really for a man of his age,” Ndileka Mandela told the AFP news agency.
“Grandad rebounded from his illness last year. I don’t see any reason why this should be any different.”
A spokesman for the ruling African National Congress (ANC), also said there was “no need for panic”.
“It was not an emergency admission. It was planned,” Keith Khosa told local media.
Mr Mandela retired from public life eight years ago – his last public appearance was at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner is affectionately known in South Africa as by his clan name, Madiba.
He spent 27 years in prison for his fight against white minority rule before being released in 1990.
In 1994, he became South Africa’s first black president, stepping down in 1999 after one term.Mandela’s key dates
- 1918 – Born in the Eastern Cape
- 1944 – Joined African National Congress
- 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
- 2001 – Diagnosed with prostate cancer
- 2004 – Retires from public life
- 2010 – Appears at closing ceremony of World Cup Source Looped by Hanif Jh