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Nelson Mandela still 'critical but stable'

Nelson Mandela remains in a "critical but stable" condition, the South African government said on Tuesday, after more than one month of intensive hospital treatment.

world Updated: Jul 09, 2013 19:02 IST

Nelson Mandela remains in a "critical but stable" condition, the South African government said on Tuesday, after more than one month of intensive hospital treatment.

President Jacob Zuma thanked members of the public for their prayers and "dignified gatherings outside the hospital" in Pretoria where the 94-year-old apartheid hero was rushed on June 8.

Zuma also thanked the international community "for ongoing messages of support to Madiba and his family," using the Nobel Peace Prize winner's clan name.

Meanwhile friends and family offered an upbeat assessment of Mandela's condition.

"With less than two weeks to go before the old man's 95th birthday on 18 July, it's time to celebrate his life. The old man is very much alive," said grandson Ndaba Mandela outside the hospital.

"When I speak to him he responds. Let us not be in a spirit of sadness but a spirit of celebration because the old man is still with us today."

Granddaughters Zaziwe and Zamaswazi took to Twitter to reassure followers that Mandela was responsive.

"He is communicating with us, we are staying positive," said the granddaughters via a joint account. "He smiles."

Madiba's hospital stay has been overshadowed by a bitter family feud over the reburial of his three children.

Their remains were exhumed from the family graveyard in rural Qunu in 2011 by the icon's eldest grandson Mandla, and reburied in Mvezo - where Mandela was born.

Last week, 15 members of the Mandela family led by his eldest daughter Makaziwe successfully sought an urgent court application forcing Mandla to return them.

The family has opened a case of grave tampering against Mandla, who is a traditional chief in the Mvezo village, which is Mandela's birthplace.

Court documents filed on behalf of the family last month described Mandela's condition as "perilous," with one claiming he was in a "vegetative state."

According to friend Denis Goldberg, doctors had considered turning off his life support, but decided it was not warranted in the absence of organ failure.

It is Mandela's longest hospitalisation since he came out of prison in 1990.

The Mandelas' spat prompted an impassioned plea from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, asking the family not to "besmirch" the peace icon's name.

He said it was like "spitting in Madiba's face."

Meanwhile, messages of support continue to pour in for the man regarded as the father of democratic South Africa.

Members of the public including politicians have been posting messages on the wall outside the hospital and leaving flower bouquets on a daily basis.

Different religious groups across the country have also held special prayers for the much-loved Madiba, who became the country's first black president in 1994, after the end of apartheid.

Security at the hospital remains tight, with police searching vehicles entering the premises.