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Nelson Mandela undergoes hernia surgery

By Nkepile Mabuse, CNN

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Nelson Mandela admitted to hospital

  • NEW: Mandela had an operation for a hernia, relative says
  • NEW: He should be released no later that Monday, relative says
  • He was hospitalized last year for treatment of an acute respiratory infection
  • The former president last appeared in public in 2010

Johannesburg (CNN) — South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela successfully underwent hernia surgery Saturday, a family member told CNN Saturday.

The 93-year-old likely will be discharged within the next two days, said the relative.

Earlier, President Jacob Zuma said Mandela was being treated for a “longstanding abdominal complaint.”

“We wish him a speedy recovery and assure him of the love and good wishes of all South Africans and people throughout the world,” Zuma said in a statement.

A government official assured the public that Mandela’s hospital stay was not an emergency.

“People need not panic. This was planned … Mandela has had abdominal pains for sometime,” said Keith Khoza, a spokesman for the ruling African National Congress.

Officials and family declined to name the hospital the former president is undergoing treatment.

Mandela — affectionately known by his clan name Madiba — last appeared in public in the closing ceremonies of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

He was hospitalized last year for treatment of an acute respiratory infection, and continued to receive treatment at home after doctors discharged him.

Despite his rare appearances, Mandela retains his popularity and is considered the founding father and hero of South Africa’s democracy.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate spent 27 years in prison after being convicted of sabotage and attempts to overthrow the government under South Africa’s former apartheid regime.

He was released in 1990 and served as president four years later.

Mandela relocated to his childhood town of Qunu last year, but moved back to his Johannesburg home earlier this year.

At the time, Zuma said the move was because the home in his boyhood town was undergoing maintenance.

CNN’s Nadia Bilchik and Faith Karimi contributed to this report

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