Johannesburg: Anti-apartheid icon and former South Africa President Nelson Mandela is in a "serious but stable condition" after being admitted to a hospital on Saturday for a recurring lung infection for the third time in seven months.

The 94-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate had been recuperating at his home after being discharged from a hospital in Pretoria on April 6 following nine days of treatment for the lung infection.

"This morning at about 1.30 am (Mandela's) condition deteriorated and he was transferred to a Pretoria hospital," President Jacob Zuma's spokesman Mac Maharaj said.

"He remains in a serious but stable condition," Maharaj said, adding that doctors were doing everything possible to make Mandela "better and comfortable".

"During the past few days former President Nelson Mandela has had a recurrence of lung infection comfortable," he said, adding "President Zuma, on behalf of government and the nation, wishes Madiba a speedy recovery."

As local and international media began converging on the city, Maharaj urged them to respect the privacy of Mandela and his family.

In December last year, he received treatment for 18 days for the lung infection and also had an operation to remove gallstones, his longest stay in hospital since he walked free from 27 years in jail in 1990.

Mandela had a long history of lung problems, dating back to the time when he was a political prisoner on Robben Island during apartheid. While in jail he contracted tuberculosis.

In March, Mandela had overnight tests in hospital which were described by the Presidency as "a routine check-up". Mandela was seen looking frail in a photograph recently released by the African National Congress, which he led to become the first democratically-elected President of South Africa in 1994. His last public appearance was at the Fifa World Cup in Johannesburg in July 2010.

Mandela served as South Africa's first black president from 1994 to 1999 and is widely regarded as the father of the nation for leading the struggle against apartheid and for democracy.

The South African government had earlier undertaken to release periodic statement on Mandela's health after media accused it of withholding information on his health.

(Agencies)

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