7 Jan 2013

Mandela 'recovered' from illness and surgery

7:25 am on 7 January 2013

Former South African president Nelson Mandela has recovered from a lung infection and surgery to remove gallstones, the government says.

The office of President Jacob Zuma says Mr Mandela has made steady progress and continues to improve.

The 94-year-old spent almost three weeks in hospital in December, and has since been receiving treatment at his home in an East Cape province village, the BBC reports.

It was his longest stay in hospital since he left prison in 1990.

Mr Mandela served as South Africa's first black president from 1994 to 1999 and is regarded by many as the father of the nation.

His health has been a cause of concern for many years. He first contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while detained in Robben Island prison.

Mr Mandela has been admitted to hospital three times in the past two years. He retired from public life in 2004 and has been rarely seen in public since.