JOHANNESBURG: The ambulance that rushed Nelson Mandela to hospital two weeks ago broke down, but the mishap did not endanger the anti-apartheid hero who remains in a serious condition, the South African presidency said on Saturday.
The 94-year-old is receiving treatment for a recurrent lung infection as he begins his third week in hospital.
“Mandela remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital,” said Mac Maharaj, President Jacob Zuma’s spokesman.
He refused to comment on a report by the US news channel CBS that Mandela was “unresponsive” and “has not opened his eyes for days”.
He told AFP that “authoritative reports about Madiba’s (Mandela’s) medical condition will come from the presidency, based on the reports the presidency receives from the doctors.”
Mandela, who became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, was taken to hospital in the early hours of June 8.
The ambulance that rushed him to hospital from his Johannesburg home to a heart clinic in Pretoria 55 kilometres (30 miles) away, had engine trouble and broke down and another had to be called, Maharaj said.
But doctors are “satisfied” that Mandela suffered no harm during the wait for a replacement ambulance, he told AFP.
The “fully equipped ICU (intensive care unit) ambulance” had a “full complement including intensive care specialists and ICU nurses”, he said.
Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded Mandela as president in 1999 for two terms, said Thursday that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was not going to “die tomorrow”.