Updated at 8 a.m ET: JOHANNESBURG -- Former President Nelson Mandela was released from the hospital Sunday after an overnight stay for minor diagnostic surgery to determine the cause of an abdominal complaint, a spokesman for the country's current leader said.
Spokesman Mac Maharaj said the 93-year-old Nobel peace laureate and anti-apartheid leader had undergone a laparoscopy, a procedure that involves surgeons making an incision in the belly to insert a thin, lighted tube to look at abdominal organs.
"The doctors have decided to send him home as the diagnostic procedure he underwent did not indicate anything seriously wrong
with him," President Jacob Zuma's office added in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Zuma had released a statement saying that Mandela was "surrounded by his family and is relaxed and
South Africa's 93-year-old former leader remains hospitalized. NBC News Special Correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault reports on his progress.
"The doctors are happy with the progress he is making. We thank all South Africans for their love and support of Madiba. We also thank all for affording Madiba and his family privacy and dignity," said Zuma, referring to Mandela by his clan name.
In the latest health update, Defense Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said Mandela had had "investigative laparoscopy" -- where a tiny camera is inserted into the abdomen -- and denied reports that he had undergone surgery for a hernia.
"It wasn't the surgery that has been out there in the media at all," Sisulu told a media briefing in Cape Town. "He's fine. He's as fine as can be at his age -- and handsome."
The government has not revealed where Mandela is being treated, although reporters were being kept at a distance from Pretoria's "1 Military" hospital, which is officially responsible for the health of sitting and former presidents.
Mandela, a Nobel peace laureate who spent 27 years in prison for fighting racist white rule, has officially retired and last appeared in public in July 2010. He became South Africa's first black president in 1994 and served one five-year term.
On Sunday, well-wishers prayed for Mandela at Regina Mundi church in Soweto, a former center of anti-apartheid protests and funerals.
In 1997, Mandela spoke at the church, calling it a "battlefield between forces of democracy and those who did not hesitate to violate a place of religion with tear gas, dogs and guns."
But despite widespread public affection, most accept that Mandela may not live for much longer.
"We wish him well," said Soweto resident Ronny Zondi. "But understanding his age, we've got to accept he might not be with us for long. We wish that God could keep him longer."
Mandela's last public appearance was in July 2010 at the final of the World Cup in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium. He now divides his time between his home in Johannesburg's northern suburbs and his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
The government's public comments on Mandela's hospitalization have been markedly more open than a year ago.
Then, Zuma's office took hours to confirm media reports of a sudden decline in Mandela's health, leading to a scrum of local and international reporters outside Johannesburg's Milpark hospital.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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