S.Africa’s Mandela frail in first TV footage in months

JOHANNESBURG: Anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela made his first television appearance in almost a year on Monday, looking thin and frail in his Johannesburg home where he has been resting after a bout of pneumonia.

The veteran leader stared mostly straight ahead, his face showing little expression in the footage of a visit from President Jacob Zuma and other officials, shown by state broadcaster SABC.

The 94-year-old was in good health and good spirits, the ruling African National Congress said after the Monday visit, in the first update on his condition since he was discharged from hospital in early April.

The footage showed Mandela sitting next to Zuma with a pillow behind his head and his legs propped up under a blanket.

“After receiving a briefing from the medical team, the national officials are satisfied that President Mandela is in good health and is receiving the very best medical care,” the ANC said.

Zuma and the other leaders had found “Mandela in good shape and in good spirits”, the party added in a statement.

Mandela spent more than a week in hospital being treated for a recurring lung infection identified as pneumonia – the third health scare in four months for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

He stepped down as president in 1999 and has not been politically active for about a decade.

But he is still revered at home and abroad for leading the long campaign against apartheid and then championing racial reconciliation.

Mandela’s lung problems date from his time as a political prisoner when he contracted tuberculosis. He spent 27 years on Robben Island and in other jails for trying to oust the white-minority government.

Television stations showed still images of Mandela smiling broadly during a visit by Hillary Clinton to his country home in August.