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JOHANNESBURG – Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first black president, has been admitted to a hospital with a recurring lung infection, South Africa said Thursday.

Mandela, 94, has become increasingly frail in recent years and has been hospitalized several times since last year, mostly recently earlier this month when he received what a presidential spokesman described as a “successful” medical test.

Mandela was admitted to a hospital just before midnight Wedesday “due to the recurrence of his lung infection,” the office of President Jacob Zuma said in a statement.

“Doctors are attending to him, ensuring that he has the best possible expert medical treatment and comfort,” the statement said. It appealed “for understanding and privacy in order to allow space to the doctors to do their work.”

Zuma wished Mandela a speedy recovery, referring to him affectionately by his clan name, “Madiba.”

“We appeal to the people of South Africa and the world to pray for our beloved Madiba 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,” the presidential statement quoted Zuma as saying.

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