Nelson Mandela’s family have emerged from the hospital where he is staying to say that he is in a critical but stable condition.
South Africans have been waiting anxiously for news of their ailing former president since his condition was said to have taken a turn for the worse in the last two days.
Ndileka Mandela, Mandela’s granddaughter, said: “He’s stable. I would like to say that we thank everybody for giving their support and praying with us and that we are anxious because, as you know, he’s critical but in a stable condition right now.”
Family members of Mandela visited the hospital this morning and said he was responsive, if in very poor health.
He has been in hospital with a recurring lung infection for more than two weeks.
His eldest daughter Makaziwe also spoke about her father and blasted foreign media “vultures” for violating his privacy.
“I won’t lie, it doesn’t look good. But as I say, if we speak to him, he responds and tries to open his eyes. He’s still there. He might be waning off, but he’s still there,” Makaziwe told state broadcaster SABC after visiting her father at the hospital in Pretoria.
She angrily criticised the “bad taste” of foreign media she said were intruding on the privacy of Mandela and his family at this difficult time.
“There’s sort of a racist element with many of the foreign media, where they just cross boundaries,” she said, after
running the gauntlet of the pack of camera crews and reporters gathered outside the hospital.
“It’s truly like vultures waiting when the lion has devoured the buffalo, waiting there for the last of the carcass. That’s the image we have as a family,” Makaziwe added.
US President Barack Obama is due to visit South Africa this weekend.
Obama on Thursday said his thoughts and prayers were with Mandela’s family and confirmed he still planned to travel to South Africa in the coming days.
Obama, who is in the middle of a three country tour of Africa, said Mandela’s legacy would live on.