JOHANNESBURG: South Africa's government has declined to directly address reports that anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela was being treated at a different hospital than previously identified, raising questions about who is caring for the 94-year-old.
Mr Mandela, admitted to hospital on Saturday, had been thought to have been at 1 Military Hospital near the capital, Pretoria, after Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said she visited him there on Monday.
But as local media suggested Mandela wasn't there on Thursday night, the presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj issued a statement that did little to clarify matters.
''President Mandela is being treated at a Pretoria hospital as said from the first,'' Mr Maharaj said. ''We have refrained from disclosing the hospital in order to ensure privacy and also to allow doctors space to do their work of caring for [him] without interruptions or undue pressure.''
It was not clear if Mr Mandela had been moved or if he had been at a different facility during his entire six-day hospitalisation, his longest since 2001, when he underwent radiation therapy after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
On Monday, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula said: ''We confirm that former president Mandela is in [the] hospital, 1 Military Hospital, and he's doing very, very well.''
South Africa's government has said Mr Mandela, who was initially admitted for medical tests, was being treated for a lung infection. He has a history of lung problems, after falling ill with tuberculosis in 1988 towards the tail-end of his 27 years in prison before his release and his election as president.
While doctors said at the time that the disease caused no permanent damage to his lungs, medical experts say tuberculosis can cause problems years later for those infected.
Mr Mandela had an acute respiratory infection in January 2011 and the chaos surrounding his stay at a public hospital resulted in the South African military take charge of his care and the government control the information about his health.
On Thursday, the President, Jacob Zuma, honoured Mr Mandela by unveiling a statue of him in the city of Bloemfontein, also called Mangaung, which hosts the governing African National Congress's party convention next week.
Mr Mandela once served as a figurehead of the party while in prison, later becoming its leader and the nation's president. The party still honours him.
''As we meet, Madiba [Mr Mandela] is recuperating from a lung infection at a Pretoria hospital,'' Mr Zuma said, calling the leader by his clan name.