JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s president said Tuesday that he was pleased Nelson Mandela had gone home from a hospital, saying it indicated the progress that the anti-apartheid leader had made even though he remains in critical condition.
An ambulance returned 95-year-old Mandela to his Johannesburg house on Sunday, and the office of President Jacob Zuma said he will receive the same level of care there that he did in the hospital, administered by the same doctors.
“He remains critical but stable, responding to treatment,” Zuma said in a meeting with journalists in Pretoria, the South African capital. “I think we feel very good that he reached a point where the doctors who were treating him felt he could now leave the hospital to his home, which indicates the progress he had made.”
Zuma also said: “We acknowledge that he is old and that he’s not well but we are very happy that he’s gone home, that he’s still with us.”
Mandela was admitted to the hospital on June 8 for what the government described as a recurring lung infection. Legal papers filed by his family said he was on life support.
On Tuesday, the former surgeon general of South Africa’s military, Vejay Ramlakan, visited Mandela’s home, the South African Press Association reported. Ramlakan was often seen arriving at the hospital in Pretoria during Mandela’s stay there.
Mandela has been treated by a large medical team from the military, academia, the private sector and other public health sectors, according to Zuma’s office.
Some residents in Mandela’s hometown of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape province, said Mandela should return to their rural area, where he had lived in recent years until ill health compelled authorities to fly him to Johannesburg so he could be near the best available medical care.
Mama Madlomo, an 84-year-old relative of the Mandela clan, said the former president should go back to Qunu so that he can be close to his ancestors. Mandela’s three deceased children, who are buried there, were the subject of a recent family feud over the location of their graves.
Another resident in Qunu, Nosithile Sodlongwane, was happy that Mandela had been discharged from the hospital.
“God has answered our prayers and we need him even if it’s for a short while,” she said.
Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is viewed around the world as a powerful figure of reconciliation. Despite being jailed for his prominent role in opposing white racist rule, Mandela was seemingly free of rancor on his release in 1990 after 27 years in prison.
He became a unifying leader who led South Africa through a delicate transition to all-race elections that propelled him to the presidency in 1994.