JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – The first images of Nelson Mandela in almost nine months showed the South African peace icon looking frail but sitting upright on Monday.
The 94-year-old appeared slightly gaunt and showed little expression in brief images captured Monday at his Johannesburg home by state broadcaster SABC.
Wearing a black and white patterned shirt, Mandela was sat in a beige armchair with his legs up and covered with a white blanket.
His head propped up by a pillow, he appeared to speak at one point and closed his eyes tight when someone in the room took a photo with flash.
He was flanked by President Jacob Zuma, who visited along with a delegation from the ruling ANC, including Zuma’s heir apparent, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
They were the first public images of Mandela since then US secretary of state Hilary Clinton visited in August.
“He is looking very good, he is in good shape, we had some conversation with him, shook hands, he smiled,” Zuma said after the meeting.
Zuma added that Mandela was “up and about,” although there was little evidence of that in the released footage.
“We think that he is fine.”
Zuma and the top brass of the African National Congress dropped in on the ailing Nobel Peace Prize winner at his home, where he has been recuperating under high-care since his hospital release earlier this month.
Mandela returned home on April 6 after 10 days being treated for a recurrent lung infection.
The ANC visitors were briefed by Mandela’s medical team and said they were “satisfied that president Mandela is in good health and is receiving the very best medical care”.
The ANC said Mandela was “keenly aware of the goodwill that has been outpouring from the peoples of the globe as befitting his status as our icon”.
“The African National Congress thanks all South Africans and the international community for keeping president Mandela in their thoughts and prayers,” it added.
But following the broadcast of the latest Mandela footage the party received some criticism from viewers, with some alleging the ruling party was using Mandela for political gain, despite previous demands for his privacy to be respected.
Mandela’s latest hospitalisation was his third since December.
South Africa’s first black president was admitted for a night for a scheduled check-up in March and in December he was hospitalised for 18 days for a lung infection and gallstones surgery.
That stint was his longest since he walked free from 27 years in jail in 1990.