Nelson Mandela suffered a recurrence of his lung infection and was taken to a hospital late Wednesday.
In a statement, the current South African President Jacob Zuma said “we appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba [a nickname for Mandela] and his family and to keep them in their thoughts.”
“We have full confidence in the medical team and know that they will do everything possible to ensure recovery,” he added. “The Presidency appeals once again for understanding and privacy in order to allow space to the doctors to do their work.”
Mandela, 94, was taken to a hospital just before midnight local time (6 p.m. ET).
The statement said that Mandela had the “best possible expert in medical treatment and comfort.”
Mandela spent nearly three weeks in a hospital in December for treatment of a lung infection and gallstone surgery.
This was his longest time he had been hospitalized since being released from captivity as a political prisoner in 1990.
He was also hospitalized earlier this month for what was described as a “scheduled medical checkup.”
Mandela was president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, the first president of the country to be elected following the fall of the apartheid system.