An ambulance carrying former South African president Nelson Mandela arrives… (Denis Farrell / Associated…)
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Nelson Mandela was discharged from the hospital Sunday but will continue receiving care at home under the close supervision of doctors, and with his family nearby.
The former South African president, who is 95, was taken by ambulance from a Pretoria hospital, where he spent the last three months, to his home in the upscale Houghton suburb of Johannesburg.
He remains in critical condition “and is at times unstable,” requiring “medical interventions,” according to South African President Jacob Zuma’s office, the only official source of updates on Mandela’s health.
“Nevertheless, his team of doctors are convinced that he will receive the same level of intensive care at his Houghton home that he received in Pretoria,” a statement said.
Mandela’s home, already outfitted with a clinic, has been reconfigured to provide him with hospital-level treatment. He will be cared for by the same team of doctors and nurses who were tending to him in the hospital.
“If there are health conditions that warrant another admission to hospital in future, this will be done,” the statement said. “Despite the difficulties imposed by his various illnesses, he, as always, displays immense grace and fortitude.”
Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president, was hospitalized June 8 for treatment of a serious, recurring lung infection.
A report in City Press, an influential Sunday newspaper in South Africa, said that Mandela’s family and doctors had decided “it is now time for Mandela to be moved home to see out his final days.”
His relocation to Johannesburg means the family will no longer need to make a 45-minute trip to Pretoria to visit him.
Jackson Mthembu, spokesman for the African National Congress, thanked South Africans and the world for their support of Mandela and his family “during these trying times.”
“We believe that receiving treatment at home will afford him continuous support from his family and loved ones,” Mthembu said.
Mandela's eldest grandson, Mandla Mandela, said he was “delighted” that his grandfather had been discharged from the hospital.
“It is a day of celebration for us that he is finally back home with us," he said in statement. "Finally everyone can breathe a sigh of relief that our prayers have found favor with the almighty.”
Mandela’s discharge is “particularly heartening because it flies in the face of those who have been busy spreading lies that he was in a 'vegetative state' and just waiting for his support machines to be switched off,” the statement said.
Mandela was transported home Sunday morning in a convoy with two ambulances, along with police, doctors and backup emergency vehicles.
When Mandela was taken to the hospital in June, his ambulance broke down en route and was stranded on a freeway before he could be transferred to another ambulance.
Among other health problems, Mandela has suffered from repeated lung infections thought to stem from his years working in a limestone quarry while a prisoner on Robben Island.
Mandela spent a total of 27 years behind bars for his role in fighting racist white-minority rule. He was released in 1990 and elected president four years later.
His last public appearance was at the final match of the 2010 soccer World Cup, which South Africa hosted. Mandela toured the Soweto stadium on the back of a golf cart alongside his wife Graca Machel, waving to the capacity crowd.
When President Obama and his family visited South Africa in June, Mandela was too ill to meet with them.
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