(RNN) - Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa and a legendary figure who helped end apartheid in that country, is in critical condition and his health has deteriorated over the past 24 hours, the South African government said Sunday.
Mandela has been hospitalized in Pretoria, South Africa, since June 8 for a recurring lung infection, according to CNN.
Mandela, 94, has been in the hospital quite a bit in recent years, most recently in March, when he spent time in the hospital for a lung infection.
He spent 27 years in prison for speaking out against apartheid, the segregation practice in force for decades in South Africa, before being released in 1990.
Mandela served a single term as the first freely elected president from 1994 to 1999, and then retired from public life.
His most recent public appearance was made during the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament, held in South Africa.
Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.