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We still need Madiba, say South Africans

South Africans say Nelson Mandela still has a role to play in the country’s young democracy.

Nelson Mandela at his homestead in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, two days before his 94th birthday. Picture: Lyoness.TV.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans say former statesman Nelson Mandela still has a role to play in the country's young democracy.

The 94-year-old was flown from his Qunu homestead in the Eastern Cape on Saturday, and admitted to the 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria.

The Presidency yesterday said he was undergoing routine medical tests consistent with his age.

Citizens have told Eyewitness News they hope the father of the nation will be discharged soon.

"Madiba, I really hope you get better and get out of hospital," said one young man.

Another said: "Ntate Madiba, we wish you the best of luck and we pray that you will get better.

"You will fight it; it's nothing you haven't been through before."

Meanwhile, spokesman for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Patrick Craven, said at his age, Tata was still a source of inspiration to many.

"We send him our best wishes and hope that indeed it's a minor matter… because we need his presence and inspiration more than ever."

At the same time, Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesman Mmusi Maimane says it is always a little worrying when Madiba is admitted to hospital.

He said news of his health affected many South Africans because they all felt they shared a special bond with the world icon.

ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said they were of the knowledge that he was in good health, despite his admittance to hospital.

"We hope these tests will be as successful as expected."

'MADIBA HAS BEEN SCARCE'

As the presidency maintains Madiba's visit is no cause for concern, it has emerged Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe had to cancel a planned visit to the former statesman this week.

Motlanthe was reportedly due to visit Mandela, who Qunu villagers say has been maintaining a low-profile, on Friday.

'WELL WISHES POUR IN FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE'

The news of Mandela's hospitalisation has once again spread around the world.

From India to America, news networks and websites picked up the story within minutes of the presidency releasing its statement.

Well wishes poured in on social networking site Twitter - in several languages and from a host of countries.

Some questioned whether Madiba could be gravely ill, but others were quick to brush off the news.

In January 2011, Mandela was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital with a respiratory infection - leading to intense speculation about his health.

In February this year, the statesman spent a night in the same hospital where he's currently being treated - also for routine tests.

Mandela served as South Africa's first democratic president between 1994 and 1999 - he played a key role in the struggle for the freedom of all South Africans during the apartheid regime.

Tata's giving spirit has also inspired Mandela Day - a day when the world is encouraged to spend 60 minutes of doing good for those less fortunate than them.