Ambulance rushing Mandela to hospital broke down: Presidency

Ambulance rushing Mandela to hospital broke down: Presidency

Ambulance rushing Mandela to hospital broke down: Presidency

The military ambulance that rushed Nelson Mandela to hospital two weeks ago broke down, but the unforeseen incident did not endanger the 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon who remains in a serious but stable condition, the South African Presidency said today.

Mandela, who was admitted to the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on June 8 with a recurrent lung infection, remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital, a statement from the Presidency said.

"We confirm the media reports that the military ambulance transporting Madiba (Mandela's clan name) had an engine problem on the 8th and that the doctors are satisfied that the former president suffered no harm during this period," the statement said.

The fully equipped military ICU ambulance had a full complement of specialist medical staff, including intensive care specialists and ICU nurses. The convoy also included two quick response vehicles.

"When the ambulance experienced engine problems it was decided that it would be best to transfer to another military ambulance which itself was accompanied for the rest of the journey by a civilian ambulance," it said.

"All care was taken to ensure that the former president Mandela's medical condition was not compromised by the unforeseen incident," it added.

The Presidency today also thanked the public for support and for respecting the privacy of the former president and his family.

This is the revered world leader's fourth hospitalisation since December.

Mandela has a long history of lung problems, dating back to the time when he was a political prisoner on Robben Island during apartheid. He contracted tuberculosis in 1988 during his 27 years in prison.

In December last year, he was admitted for 18 days for treatment of the lung infection and surgery to extract gallstones. It was his longest stint in hospital since his release from prison in 1990.

In March, he was admitted for an overnight scheduled check-up before returning to the hospital that month for 10-days.

Mandela, who turns 95 next month, has not been seen in public since the World Cup final in South Africa in July 2010.

Mandela, one of the world's tallest statesmen, led the movement to replace the apartheid regime of South Africa with a multi-racial democracy.

Mandela served as South Africa's first black president from 1994 to 1999. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.