POSTED: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 8:00pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 8:04pm
CNN — Former President Nelson Mandela has been discharged from a hospital and will continue receiving treatment at his home in Houghton, a spokesman for South African President Jacob Zuma told CNN on Wednesday.
Mandela, 94, was treated for an acute respiratory infection in 2011. He was hospitalized for a lung infection on December 8; and on December 15, he underwent surgery for removal of gallstones.
Mandela has not appeared in public since the 2010 World Cup hosted in his country.
During the time of apartheid in South Africa, Mandela was convicted of sabotage and was imprisoned for 27 years until 1990.
He and former President F.W. de Klerk, who dismantled apartheid, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. A year later, Mandela became the nation's first black president.
South Africa last month issued banknotes bearing the picture of Mandela.
Despite his rare public appearances in recent years, Mandela retains his popularity and is considered a hero of democracy in the nation.
South Africans celebrated his 94th birthday in July by participating in good deeds nationwide to honor the legacy of the famous statesman.
Citizens performed at least 67 minutes of public service on his birthday, a reference to the number of years he devoted to helping others.
A day before his birthday, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, had lunch with Mandela in the small southeastern village where he grew up and spends most of his time.
Clinton, whose presidential term coincided with Mandela's, hailed him as a "wonderful friend" and planted a tree in his honor during the visit.
"He didn't call me a single time, not once, when he didn't ask about Hillary (Clinton) and Chelsea," Clinton said of their conversations during their time in office. "If it wasn't too late, he'd ask me to go get Chelsea, bring her to the phone, ask about her homework."
Clinton said the anti-apartheid icon has never lost touch with his humanity.
"I saw in him something that I try not to lose in myself, which is no matter how much responsibility you have, he remembered you were a person first," he said.
Mandela's impact has extended far beyond the borders of his own country. After he left office in 1999, he was involved in international situations ranging from conflicts in Africa to the Mideast.
In January 2000, he addressed the United Nations Security Council, appealing for help in ending the brutal civil war between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi. In December 2003, he participated in the signing of the Geneva Accords for peace in the Middle East.
A bronze statue of Mandela was unveiled in Parliament Square in London in 2007, and in 2009 the United Nations designated July 18 as Mandela Day in 2009.