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Swiss Specialist: Mandela in ‘Excellent Health’ Despite TB

August 23, 1988

BERN, Switzerland (AP) _ A Swiss lung specialist who examined Nelson Mandela said today the imprisoned leader of the African National Congress was in excellent health despite tuberculosis.

″I can say that the state of health (of Mandela) is simply excellent,″ Professor Heinrich Herzog told Swiss Radio International.

Herzog, until recently president of the European Society of Pleurology, said Mandela told him he ″was in perfect health, and felt as well as before the whole thing started.″

He said the 70-year-old black leader ″looks rather a bit younger″ than his age, adding: ″He no longer looks ill.″

Mandela’s lawyer, Ismail Ayob, announced last week that his client was suffering from TB. He said Mandela was short of breath, had a persistent cough and that his speech was impaired.

Herzog saw Mandela at Tygerberg hospital in Cape Town. He did not specify when he examined Mandela, but indicated it was after an Aug. 13 biopsy that showed no sign of malignancy in Mandela’s left lung.

Hospital officials had said that Herzog was examining Mandela, but did not specify who invited him to do so.

On Aug. 12, Mandela was transferred to Tygerberg hospital from Pollsmoor Prison, where he is serving a life term for sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government. He was imprisoned in 1962.

Herzog said he had ″no political talks″ with Mandela. But he said comments in the South African media and ″indirect remarks, which obviously originate at a higher level, leave the impression that the (Pretoria) government may make use of the situation to set him free.″

In Cape Town, the medical superintendent at Tygerberg, Dr. J.G.L. Strauss, said today that Mandela was recovering ″faster than he expected.″ The doctor said Mandela was sitting up in bed, reading newspapers and listening to the radio.

Helen Suzman, an opponent of apartheid who is the longest-serving member of South Africa’s Parliament, said she would introduce a motion Wednesday urging Mandela’s release.

The ANC is the main guerrilla group fighting to overthrow the South African government and end apartheid, the system of racial segregation in which South Africa’s black majority has no vote in national affairs.

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