Nelson Mandela, the former South Africa president known for his work fighting apartheid, has been hospitalized due to a serious lung infection. He is in “serious but stable” condition, according to South Africa officials.

Mandela, 94, is spending his third day in the Pretoria, South Africa hospital, with his health “unchanged,” according to reports. Although the fact that his condition has not improved is worrisome, Mac Maharaj, a longtime friend of Mandela, is optimistic that the anti-apartheid icon will recover.

"The doctors have to remain balanced in this situation," Maharaj told CBS News. "They cannot raise our hopes without justification. Nor can they make us lose hope without justification."

Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, served in the office from 1994 to 1999. He has been awarded more than 250 awards for his works in the country, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Order of Lenin.

It is speculated that Mandela's current respiratory troubles can be traced back 27 years ago to when he was a prisoner of South Africa's white racist government, reported BBC News. During his time as a prisoner, he spent time working in a stone quarry off the coast of Cape Town in Robben Island, where he contracted tuberculosis. He was hospitalized in April with pneumonia.

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