Nelson Mandela out of hospital, remains in critical condition

President Zuma calls on South Africans to pray for Mandela, whose home has been set up to provide intensive care

Nelson Mandela has been sent home from the hospital but remains in critical condition.
Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

Nelson Mandela remained in critical condition Sunday when he was released from a hospital and taken to his Johannesburg home, which has been set up to provide intensive care, South Africa's presidency said.

An ambulance drove the anti-apartheid leader home from the capital, Pretoria, where he had been treated since June 8 for what the government has described as a recurring lung infection.

President Jacob Zuma said in a statement Sunday that Mandela's condition "is at times unstable."

"His home has been reconfigured to allow him to receive intensive care there," the statement said. "The health care personnel providing care at his home are the very same who provided care to him in hospital. If there are health conditions that warrant another admission to hospital in future, this will be done."

There has been an outpouring of concern in South Africa and around the world for the transformative figure who led his country's historic shift from white rule to democracy two decades ago in a spirit of reconciliation. Mandela turned 95 on July 18.

Zuma urged South Africans to pray for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and said to accept that Mandela had grown old and frail. Well-wishers sent flowers and messages of support to the hospital where he was being treated, and prayer vigils were held around the country. The government has released few details about Mandela's condition, citing patient confidentiality.

Mandela has long been honored around the world as a towering figure of peace and reconciliation. Despite being jailed for 27 years for his prominent role in opposing white racist rule, Mandela was seemingly free of rancor on his release in 1990, becoming the unifying leader who steered South Africa through a delicate transition to all-race elections that propelled him to the presidency four years later.

The United Nations has recognized Mandela's birthday as an international day to honor the themes of activism, democracy and responsibility symbolized by the former leader. 

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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