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Winnie Madikizela-Mandela greets wellwishers gathered to wish to former President Nelson Mandela happy birthday outside the hospital where he is being treated in Pretoria, July 18, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African anti-apartheid veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, ex-wife of the late president Nelson Mandela, is "absolutely fine" after being admitted to hospital for observation, her spokesman said on Friday.

Doctors decided on Wednesday to keep the 80-year-old former first lady in hospital after she underwent a routine checkup.

"I was with her and she's absolutely fine," spokesman Victor Dlamini told television broadcaster eNCA.

Madikizela-Mandela spent several weeks in hospital last year for back surgery.

During her ex-husband's 27-year incarceration for his fight against apartheid, Madikizela-Mandela campaigned for his release and for the rights of black South Africans, undergoing detention, banishment and arrest.

(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Gareth Jones)