JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Former South African president Nelson Mandela was hospitalized Saturday for a test to determine what is behind an undisclosed stomach ailment, but the country's current leader said the much beloved 93-year-old icon was in no danger.
Mandela, a Nobel Peace laureate who spent 27 years in prison for fighting racist white rule, is retired and last appeared in public in July 2010. He became South Africa's first black president in 1994 and served one five-year term.
Mandela "has had a long-standing abdominal complaint and doctors feel it needs proper specialist medical attention," President Jacob Zuma said in a statement Saturday morning, asking that Mandela's privacy be respected.
In a follow-up statement later, Zuma added that Mandela had undergone a planned, undisclosed "diagnostic procedure." Mandela "is fine and fully conscious and the doctors are satisfied with his condition, which they say is consistent with his age," Zuma said. "We are happy that he is not in any danger." Zuma said Mandela was expected to be discharged from the hospital Sunday or Monday.
The statements did not say at which hospital Mandela was being treated, apparently to protect his privacy, but that did not stop journalists from camping out at a military hospital in the capital, Pretoria, on the chance he might be there. In 2011, Mandela spent a few days in a private Johannesburg hospital with an acute respiratory infection.
The South African military, which took charge of Mandela's health care after he was hospitalized last year, and a spokesman for Mandela's office said they would have no statement Saturday.
Mandela's public appearances have become increasingly rare, though he did appear at the closing ceremony of the World Cup in July 2010. Mandela also held a private meeting with Michelle Obama when the U.S. first lady traveled to South Africa with her daughters last year.