Former president Nelson Mandela. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Former president Nelson Mandela. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

FORMER President Nelson Mandela was discharged from hospital on Wednesday night, the Presidency said.

The surprise announcement came after Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj had said earlier that Mr Mandela’s condition “remains as it was yesterday”, and had provided no hint that the elder statesman was on the verge of being discharged from hospital.

“He will undergo home-based high care at his Houghton home until he recovers fully,” said Mr Maharaj. “We thank the public and the media for the good wishes and for affording Madiba and the family the necessary privacy.

Mr Mandela is doing well after being discharged from hospital, although he is still not fully recovered, Mr Maharaj said on Thursday.

“He is not yet fully recovered, but he has sufficiently moved forward so that he can be discharged,” Mr Maharaj told eNCA.

“He is sufficiently well to be home.”

“We request a continuation of the privacy consideration in order to allow for the best possible conditions for full recovery.”

Mr Mandela, 94, spent Christmas Day in hospital, having been flown to Pretoria from his Eastern Cape home on December 8.

He was diagnosed with a lung infection and also underwent gallstone surgery.

His current stay in hospital was his longest since he was freed more than two decades ago.

Mr Mandela has a history of lung problems, having suffered from tuberculosis towards the end of his 27-years spent in prison.

President Jacob Zuma said in a statement on Tuesday, that Mr Mandela was “looking much better” and was in high spirits.

Mr Zuma had visited the former statesman, joining his wife, Graca Machel and other family members, in presenting Christmas wishes to Mr Mandela at his hospital bedside.

“He was happy to have visitors on this special day and is looking much better. The doctors are happy with the progress that he is making,” Mr Zuma said.

“We found him in good spirits. He shouted my clan name, Nxamalala, as I walked into the ward.”

Mr Zuma said Mr Mandela’s family had been appreciative of the support they have received from the South African public.

“That is what keeps them going at this difficult time,” Mr Zuma said.

Earlier on Christmas Day, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini joined the call to South Africans to pray for Mr Mandela, SABC radio news reported.

The king wished Madiba a speedy recovery and thanked his medical team.

With Sapa