Former South African President Nelson Mandela is undergoing specialised tests in hospital and there is no reason to panic over his health, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said today.
Mandela (92) was admitted to hospital on Wednesday, prompting fears for the anti-apartheid icon who led South Africa as its first black president and is revered at home and abroad as a symbol of reconciliation and hope.
A source close to Mandela said he was recovering from a collapsed lung and could leave hospital as early as today. His foundation said he had been admitted for routine tests.
"Medically there is no need to panic. Dr Mandela suffers from (an) ailment common to people of his age, and conditions that have developed over years. We may recall that he has suffered from tuberculosis whilst on Robben Island and has had previous respiratory infections," Motlanthe said.
President Jacob Zuma appealed for calm after the hospitalisation set off speculation in local media about Mandela's health and brought family members and dignitaries rushing to the hospital.
Mandela has not been seen in public since the soccer World Cup final in July last year, when he made a brief appearance waving from a golf cart.
Several members of Mandela's family, including his wife Graca Machel, visited the hospital after his admission.
Mandela retired from public life in June 2004 before his 86th birthday, telling his compatriots: "Don't call me, I'll call you."