Mandela spends fourth day in hospital, treated for pneumonia

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Nelson Mandela remained in hospital for a fourth day Sunday after South African officials said the anti-apartheid hero was making steady progress following treatment for a recurrence of pneumonia.

The frail 94-year-old, one of the towering figures of modern history, was admitted late Wednesday for his third hospitalisation in four months.

Doctors drained a build-up of fluid, known as a pleural effusion or "water on the lungs", that had developed from the lung infection.

That procedure helped him "breathe without difficulty," President Jacob Zuma's office said in the last update issued on Saturday.

Zuma's spokesman Mac Maharaj said on Sunday: "I am still waiting to hear from the doctors, so my update of yesterday remains."

Asked if the doctors' silence should be cause for concern, Maharaj said that "if there was a turn, a significant turn, they would say something."

"I have said he is responding (to treatment), making steady progress," Maharaj said earlier.

It was unclear how long South Africa's first black president would remain hospitalised.

Mandela's recent health troubles saw an outpouring of prayers as Christians celebrated Easter Sunday, but have also seen South Africans come to terms with the mortality of the revered Nobel Peace Prize winner.

"Yes, we are concerned that he is ailing, and he is getting worse, naturally we should be concerned. I think this is the question in the back of many of our minds, when is the end? Is he going to die?" Father Sebastian Rossouw, an assistant parish priest at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Soweto township told worshippers.

"We should rather celebrate what he stood for, and what he continues to stand for, that he has been an icon of peace, an icon of service."

The Regina Mundi church was once a pivotal centre in the resistance against apartheid, offering shelter to activists.

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