JOHANNESBURG - Former President Nelson Mandela was discharged from a hospital on Saturday after treatment for pneumonia, the presidency said in news that cheered South Africans who had waited tensely for health updates on a beloved national figure.

Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who spent 27 years in prison for opposing white racist rule, was robust during his decades as a public figure, endowed with charisma, a powerful memory and an extraordinary talent for articulating the aspirations of his people and winning over many of those who opposed him. In recent years, however, 94-year-old Mandela became more frail and last made a public appearance at the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament, where he didn't deliver an address and was bundled against the cold.

A statement from the office of President Jacob Zuma said there had been "a sustained and gradual improvement" in the condition of Mandela, who was admitted to a hospital on the night of March 27.

Mandela had received similar treatment at his home in Johannesburg after a stay at a hospital in nearby Pretoria in December, when he was treated for a lung infection and had a procedure to remove gallstones.