Nelson Mandela taken to hospital as family visits spark growing fears for his health

FILE : Nelson Mandela'slast public appearance at the World Cup Final in July 2010, when he toured the stadium in a buggy while joined by wife Graça Machel, who visited him in hospital yesterday as he underwent 'routine tests'

Jan 27 ( KATAKAMI.COM / DAILY MAIL.CO.UK) — Nelson Mandela was taken to hospital yesterday amid fears about the failing health of the first South Africa’s first black president.

Spokesmen for the 92-year-old, who has appeared increasingly frail recently, insisted the visit was for ‘routine tests’.

But his arrival at Milpark hospital in Johannesburg by ambulance yesterday afternoon was followed by a stream of family members, including his wife Graça Machel, 65.

Several grandchildren and great-grandchildren also visited him, prompting speculation that his condition was worse than first reported.

Earlier, Archbishop Desmond Tutu weighed into the debate by saying his former comrade in the struggle against white rule appeared ‘frail’ when they met last week.

Mr Mandela has not been seen in public since his brief appearance before the final of the World Cup six months ago when he driven in a buggy, rather than walking, on to the pitch at Soccer City stadium in Soweto, the township where he still has a house.

Last night the Nelson Mandela Foundation said: ‘We can confirm that Nelson Mandela is at Milpark hospital undergoing routine tests. He is in no danger and is in good spirits.’

In the hospital’s car park, a cordon was erected around the family cars, providing them with privacy.

Milpark Hospital last night where Mr Mandela was said to be in good spirits

Earlier this month, a report circulated around the world on social network Twitter that the elder statesman had died.

It was condemned as malicious and insensitive by the ruling African National Congress, of which Mr Mandela was leader.

However, sources close to the family have confirmed privately that his health had deteriorated in recent months.

It is widely reported in South Africa that Mr Mandela suffers from age-related dementia.

Since his released from prison in 1990 after 27 years behind bars, Mr Mandela has been diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer.

Six years ago, he announced his retirement from from public life. His health had been declining, and he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Since then, he has appeared only rarely in public and hardly ever to speak.

Access to the iconic freedom fighter is strictly guarded by his family and staff.

Mr Mandela, who served as president between 1994 and 1999, retired from public life in 2004.

Since then, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation have been set up to continue charity work in his name.

During his brief appearance at the FIFA World Cup last July he cut an extremely frail figure, with a thin frame and white hair.

At the time, Mr Mandela was still mourning the sudden death of his great granddaughter in a car crash and had declined all requests to meet visiting heads of state and celebrities who flocked to South Africa for the month-long tournament.  (*)

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