Nelson Mandela has been discharged from hospital after three months, with his home turned into a private intensive care ward where South Africa’s former president is expected to spend his “final days”.
While several of Mr Mandela’s grandchildren welcomed the move as a sign of recovery, there was no official news of an improvement in the ailing 95-year-old’s health.
He remains in a critical condition, “at times unstable” and requiring “medical interventions”, according to the office of Jacob Zuma, theSouth African president.
But his family and doctors reportedly decided that “it is now time for Mandela to be moved home to see out his final days”, according to a report in City Press, a South African newspaper.
He was transported home on Sunday morning by ambulance after spending nearly three months in Pretoria’s Mediclinic Heart hospital, around 31 miles from Johannesburg, where he was being treated for a recurring lung infection.
The ambulance travelled in a convoy with police, personal doctors and several backup emergency vehicles. When he was sent to hospital on June 8, his ambulance broke down en route, sparking concern about the well-being of South Africa’s first black president.
His relocation means the family will no longer need to make the 45-minute trip to Pretoria to visit him. His wife Graca Machel had been spending nearly every moment at his bedside.
Jackson Mthembu, spokesman for the African National Congress, said: “We believe that receiving treatment at home will afford him continuous support from his family and loved ones.”
Mr Mandela is being treated by a large medical team, and will continue to receive care from the same doctors and nurses who were treating him in hospital.
His home in the upscale Houghton suburb of Johannesburg, already fitted with a hospital-like clinic, has been reconfigured to allow him to receive intensive care on site.
His doctors “are convinced that he will receive the same level of intensive care at his Houghton home that he received in Pretoria.”
The statement from the South African presidency added however that if there were health problems that warranted another admission to hospital in the future, “this will be done”.
“Despite the difficulties imposed by his various illnesses, he, as always, displays immense grace and fortitude,” it added.
He was transported to Johannesburg as opposed to Qunu, the remote Eastern Cape village where he grew up and where he wants to be buried on the Mandela family plot.
After he retired from politics, he built a home in Qunu, spending most of his time there until worsening health problems forced him to seek treatment in Pretoria. It is thought that the Qunu home would have been unable to cater to his current needs.
His release from hospital was nonetheless welcomed by various members of his family. Mandla Mandela, his eldest grandson, said he was “delighted”.
“It is a day of celebration for us that he is finally back home with us,” he said. “Finally everyone can breathe a sigh of relief that our prayers have found favour with the almighty.”
He said it was “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”.
“As long as he is still with us, we will celebrate every day with him,” he said. “It is our prayer that the almighty will give him good health for as long as he is with us on this earth.”
Mr Mandela has been admitted to hospital four times in the past year, suffering from an array of health problems. His lung infection is thought to stem from his time working in a limestone quarry while imprisoned on Robben Island.
His last appearance in public was at the football World Cup Final in 2010, which South Africa hosted, although the government and state broadcaster was criticised for releasing footage of him in April which showed him unsmiling, seemingly dazed and covered in a blanket while flanked by Mr Zuma and African National Congress leaders. President Barack Obama was unable to meet Mr Mandela during a trip to Africa in June due to the anti-apartheid hero’s condition.
His birthday, July 18, was celebrated as an international day to honour themes of activism and democracy.
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