JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African election official says former President Nelson Mandela has cast an early ballot in upcoming local elections and is looking “healthy and handsome.”

Independent Elections Commission Chairman Brigalia Bam says the 92-year-old statesman and Nobel peace laureate voted privately Monday at his Johannesburg home under observation of officials. Mandela has retired from public life.

Bam says Mandela appeared in good health as he cast his vote. Mandela has not been seen in public since he was hospitalized in January with respiratory complications.

Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after serving 27 years in prison for his fight against racist rule.

South Africa holds local elections on Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.