Nelson Mandela is doing well at home, his granddaughters tell CNN
Former South African President Nelson Mandela, at home after a long hospital stay, is alert and playing with his grandchildren, his granddaughter Zaziwe Manaway told CNN exclusively Friday.
Mandela, 94, is aware of social media rumors that he's close to death, Manaway said.
"That is absolutely not true. My grandfather is well," she said. "It can be very, very hurtful for us to hear these messages out there in the social media that our grandfather is going to go home to die. It is insensitive."
Mandela is revered in his country, CNN's Robyn Curnow writes, because he reminds South Africans of how far they have come. The former president embodies the South Africa that was promised in the election of 1994, and many South Africans worry that their country no longer reflects the democratic ideals Mandela spent his life advocating.
Manaway said she wants to appeal to people spreading rumors to stop, and to be more sensitive to the family and to Mandela, a global icon of peace and South Africa's defeat of apartheid.
"My grandfather still wakes up in the morning (and) reads the newspaper," the 35-year-old said. "So he is also aware of what is being said around him."
Mandela was treated for an acute respiratory infection in 2011. He was hospitalized for a lung infection on December 8, and on December 15, he underwent surgery for removal of gallstones.
Because Mandela is in his 90s, it's understandable that "once in a while, he needs medical care and medical attention," another granddaughter, 33-year-old Swati Dlamini, told CNN. "And we're very grateful he's surrounded by the best medical team. He's very well taken care of, and he's very comfortable, and he's very happy."
On Wednesday, a spokesman for South African President Jacob Zuma told media that Mandela had been discharged from the hospital and would continue receiving treatment at his home in Houghton.
He's received well wishes from around the globe, his granddaughters said.
"We'd just like to thank the whole world for sending us messages and keeping us in their prayers," Manaway said.
"We know that people worry and we know that people are concerned," Dlamini said. "But, you know, we'd just like people to know that he's doing very well and he's in good spirits and he's very cheerful."
Mandela has not made a public appearance since the 2010 World Cup hosted in his country. In 2011, South Africans got a rare glimpse of him when he voted in local municipal elections at his home in Johannesburg.
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