Former South African President Nelson Mandela's condition is "unchanged," a government spokesman said in a Monday statement. An ominous Saturday statement released by the same spokesman, Mac Maharaj, warned that Mandela's "condition deteriorated" and that doctors were attempting to "make him better and comfortable."
"Former President Nelson Mandela remains in hospital, and his condition is unchanged," said Maharaj's Monday statement. "Madiba was admitted on Saturday, 8 June, for treatment in a Pretoria hospital for a lung infection. President Jacob Zuma reiterates his call for South Africa to pray for Madiba and the family during this time."
The Mail & Guardian newspaper reported Monday that members of the press snatched up all parking spots before 7 a.m. local time near the Pretoria hospital where Mandela, 94, is believed to be receiving treatment for a lung infection.
Graça Machel, Mandela's third and current wife, accompanied him to the hospital, the Mail & Guardian reported Saturday. His daughter Zenani Dlamini, South Africa's ambassador to Argentina, flew home to be with him, Nehanda Radio reports, and his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela visited his bedside Monday.
Zuma, who occupies Mandela's former position as South African president, has not visited Mandela at the hospital, South Africa's Eyewitness News reports. "Our priority is to see Madiba get well. Therefore as the ANC, we have not even thought of visiting him in hospital because we are giving him and the hospital staff privacy," African National Congress spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.
The Star newspaper reported Monday that Mandela's family is only allowing relatives to visit and senior government officials described his condition as "scary." The ANC was quick to deny the report's implication that Mandela's family banned party members from visiting. "We have spoken to the family about this report and they deny that they issued such an instruction or spoke to the media on barring the ANC and government from visiting Madiba," Mthembu told the Mail & Guardian.
Mandela has been hospitalized on three other occasions in the past year, including a December surgery to remove gallstones - followed by a lengthy recovery - and a February hospital stay due to a stomach ailment.
In March the aging leader was hospitalized for a lung infection, prompting widespread fear that his death was imminent. Zuma urged South Africans to react calmly.
"In Zulu there's a time when somebody passes away who is old, people say he or she has gone home," the current president said in a March BBC interview. "I think those are some of the things we should be thinking about."
Zuma and other ANC leaders were filmed visiting with Mandela in April. The visit, which produced the most recent publicly available photos of Mandela, showed him as frail and nearly emotionless but for blinking. A blanket covered his legs as he sat nearly motionless on a couch.
The 94-year-old Mandela, who turns 95 in July, was made an international celebrity during the struggle against apartheid. He was released from prison by the country's minority white government in 1990 after 23 years behind bars, during which he contracted tuberculosis while imprisoned on Robben Island.
Mandela was elected president in 1994 during the country's first national election that enfranchised black South Africans. As president, he encouraged reconciliation between races before retiring in 1999.