Mandela could soon be discharged, Mbeki says

JASON STRAZIUSO
Associated Press
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Members of the Toronto Children's Chorus choral group from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who are on a tour taking part in the Ihlombe South African Choral Festival, hug each other as they observe some of the get-well messages and flowers, after singing outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa Saturday, July 13, 2013. Nelson Mandela is responding to treatment and the 94-year-old's condition remains critical but stable after more than a month in the hospital, South Africa's president said on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Nelson Mandela may be discharged from hospital soon to recuperate at home, said a former president of South Africa.

The prediction about Mandela leaving the hospital was made by Thabo Mbeki as he gave a memorial lecture for the African National Congress Saturday, reported the South African radio news service Eyewitness News.

Mandela has been hospitalized for more than five weeks for a recurring lung infection, sparking an outpouring of support in South Africa and internationally. Friends who have visited him say he is on life support in the form of mechanical ventilation.

The most recent official update on his health said Mandela was in critical but stable condition. But both Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, and President Jacob Zuma have said recently that Mandela is responding to treatment.

The anti-apartheid hero spent 27 years in prison before becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994. He turns 95 on Thursday.

Mbeki was Mandela's key deputy and succeeded him as South Africa's president in 1999.