Former president Nelson Mandela, under umbrella, leaves Milpark Hospital after being discharged in Johannesburg. Mandela was discharged from hospital after being treated for a respiratory infection, according to officials. Mandela's hospital admission prompted fears for the anti-apartheid icon, who led South Africa as its first black president and is revered at home and abroad as a symbol of reconciliation and hope. Photo: Reuters

Former president Nelson Mandela had a quick and highly co-ordinated homecoming on Friday after his release from hospital.

Cameramen rushed to try to get the first images as he was driven through the gate of his Houghton, Johannesburg home in a military ambulance, but the windows were covered.

Other vehicles assumed to be ferrying family members were also allowed onto the premises.

He was discharged after spending two-and-a-half days being treated for a respiratory infection. The 92-year-old political icon would receive home-based care. 

Hospital staff came outside to watch his departure. As he left in a military ambulance, led by nine motorbikes and six police cars, he passed a group of school children singing Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika and holding a poster with the words "take a short walk to health Madiba". 

Photographers charged after the convoy with blue lights flashing and initially no sirens.

 Earlier Surgeon General Lieutenant-General Vejaynand Ramlakan told a press briefing at the hospital: "He received treatment and has responded very well... .He is stable, but will be monitored closely." 

Mandela's grandson Mandla told the briefing: "My grandfather has been discharged and we as a family will make the necessary arrangements for him to go back to his home in Houghton." - Sapa