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South Africa's Mandela visited by family after weekend improvement

Visitors walk past a statue of former South African president Nelson Mandela outside the Victor Verster Prison near Paarl in the Cape winela
Visitors walk past a statue of former South African president Nelson Mandela outside the Victor Verster Prison near Paarl in the Cape winela

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, who is being treated in hospital for pneumonia, was visited by members of his family on Monday after doctors had reported an improvement in his condition over the weekend.

A statement from South Africa's presidency said there was "no significant change" in the condition of the 94-year-old former president, who has been in hospital since late Wednesday suffering from a recurrence of a lung infection.

"Former President Mandela is still in hospital where he is receiving treatment ... He spent part of Family Day today with some members of his family," the statement from President Jacob Zuma's office said.

In South Africa, Easter Monday is a public holiday celebrated as Family Day.

In their previous bulletin late on Sunday, the medical team treating Mandela said he had a "restful day" and had shown further improvement after a procedure to drain excess fluid from around his lungs. Doctors had already said he was breathing without difficulty.

Mandela's latest treatment is his third visit to hospital in four months, generating worldwide concern over the health of the revered statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who became South Africa's first black president in 1994.

He is admired at home and abroad for leading the struggle against white minority rule in South Africa, and then actively promoting the cause of racial reconciliation when in power.

He has been away from the political scene for at least a decade and has become increasingly frail in his old age.

Mandela was in hospital briefly earlier this month for a check-up and spent nearly three weeks in hospital in December with a lung infection and after surgery to remove gallstones.

He has a history of lung problems dating back to when he contracted tuberculosis as a political prisoner. He spent 27 years in prison on Robben Island and other jails for his attempts to overthrow apartheid rule.

(Reporting by Xola Potelwa; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

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