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Nelson Mandela's ambulance broke down on way to hospital

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View images of civil rights leader Nelson Mandela, who went from anti-apartheid activist to prisoner to South Africa's first black president.

PRETORIA, South Africa – Nelson Mandela remained in a “serious but stable” condition, officials said Saturday, as it emerged the former president’s ambulance had broken down on its way to the hospital.

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement that the vehicle was forced to stop as it took the 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon to the hospital on June 8.

But Maharaj said that "no harm came to Madiba" as a result. Madiba is Mandela’s clan name and is used as a term of affection.

“We confirm the media reports that the military ambulance transporting Madiba had an engine problem on the 8th and that the doctors are satisfied that the former president suffered no harm during this period,” he said.

 “When the ambulance experienced engine problems it was decided that it would be best to transfer to another military ambulance which itself was accompanied for the rest of the journey by a civilian ambulance,” he added. “All care was taken to ensure that the former president Mandela's medical condition was not compromised by the unforeseen incident.”

NBC's Ian Johnston contributed to this report.

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