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Nelson Mandela hospitalised

Anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela is hospitalised with a recurrence of a lung infection, with presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj saying he is in a 'serious but stable' condition.

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Nelson Mandela has been readmitted to hospital with a renewed lung infection and was in "serious but stable condition", South Africa's presidency said.

"During the past few days former president Nelson Mandela has had a recurrence of lung infection," President Jacob Zuma's office said in a statement.

"This morning at about 1.30am (0930 AEST) his condition deteriorated and he was transferred to a Pretoria hospital. He remains in a serious but stable condition," it said.

Re-admitted: Nelson Mandela.

Re-admitted: Nelson Mandela. Photo: Getty Images

The infection affects his breathing, Mac Maharaj, a presidential spokesman, said. "The doctors are saying it's serious but he's stable. He's able to breathe on his own."

The condition is "treatable on its own", Mr Maharaj told eNCA television.

It marks the second admission to hospital in as many months for the frail anti-apartheid hero, who will turn 95 in July.

Mandela and his wife Graca Machel at their home in August 2012.

Mandela and his wife Graca Machel at their home in August 2012. Photo: AFP

On April 6 he was released after being treated for pneumonia during a 10-day stay.

The Nobel peace prize winner has stayed in hospital four times in just over half a year, mostly over problems with his chest.

In December 2012, he was hospitalised for 18 days for a lung infection and for gallstones surgery.

In March he was admitted for a day for a scheduled check-up and during his 10-day stay weeks later, doctors drained a build-up of fluid, known as a pleural effusion or "water on the lungs", that had developed in his chest.

Mr Mandela served for five years as South Africa’s first black president after his African National Congress party won all-race elections that ended apartheid in 1994.

He spent 27 years in prison, most of it on Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, where he contracted tuberculosis.

The ANC and its political allies, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, were among those wishing Mr Mandela a speedy recovery.

"We will keep President Mandela and his family in our thoughts and prayers at this time and call upon South Africans and the peoples of the globe to do the same," Jackson Mthembu, an ANC spokesman, said.

Mr Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, cancelled an appearance at a London summit on hunger to return to South Africa, the Press Association reported, citing the event’s organisers.

In an April interview Mr Zuma said Mr Mandela had been "sprightly" when he had seen him in the hospital that month.

"He is doing very well," Mr Zuma said on April 24. "He is a good fighter. He is actually demonstrating this in his old age. We just accept the fact that he is no longer young. We are happy that we are still with him."

Mr Mandela has not been seen in public since the football World Cup final in 2010, where he appeared on the pitch before kick-off.

Following his April hospital stay, the release of television footage showing a frail and distant Mr Mandela being visited at home by ANC leaders sparked outrage and accusations that the party was exploiting him.

The images aired by state broadcaster SABC - which were the first public footage of the Nobel peace laureate in almost nine months - showed an unsmiling, distant Mr Mandela seated upright on a couch, his legs covered in a blanket.

AFP, Bloomberg