Grandson: Mandela hopefully coming home soon

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A grandson of Nelson Mandela says hopefully he’ll be headed home soon, as the 94-year-old beloved former president marked two weeks in the hospital Friday.

Ndaba Mandela addressed concerns about his grandfather’s health at a Thursday media briefing about a football invitational that will be part of celebrations surrounding Mandela’s 95th birthday on July 18.

“Positively we can say that he has been getting better and better each day and hopefully he’ll be coming home soon,” Ndaba Mandela was quoted as saying by The Star, a South African newspaper.

“For us, as family, as long as he can still hear and understand what is said to him, and talk to us, we’ll continue to celebrate him,” he said.

Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison during white racist rule, was taken to a Pretoria hospital on June 8 to be treated for a recurring lung infection. It marked the fourth time he has been hospitalized since December.

Meanwhile, former President Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded Mandela as president in 1999, said he also has remained in close contact with doctors about Mandela’s condition.

“Nelson Mandela is in fact improving, in terms of his health,” Mbeki said Thursday night in an interview with Power FM, a South African radio station. “I think we really need to feel comforted that we still have him with us now.”

The government had described Mandela’s condition as serious but stable, but later said he was improving.

Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and became South Africa’s first black president in all-race elections in 1994.

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