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President Zuma says Nelson Mandela is still critical in hospital

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Well-wishers lay flowers outside of the home of

Well-wishers lay flowers outside of the home of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on June 24, 2013. A statement issued by the South African government reported that Mandela's health was in a critical stage after his condition in hospital worsened over the course of 24 hours. AFP PHOTO 



Posted  Monday, June 24  2013 at  13:37
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Former South African President Nelson Mandela remains in a critical condition in hospital, President Jacob Zuma says.

Mr Zuma said the doctors were doing everything they could to make the former leader comfortable, but he could not give any more medical details.

South Africa's first black president, 94, was taken to hospital in Pretoria earlier this month for the third time this year, with a lung infection.

A senior official said South Africans should not hold out "false hopes".

On Sunday, the presidency announced that Mr Mandela had become critical, after Mr Zuma visited him in hospital.

Mr Zuma said on Monday he had found Mr Mandela asleep, but had spoken to his wife and medical teams.

"All of us in the country should accept the fact that Madiba [Nelson Mandela's clan name] is now old. As he ages, his health will... trouble him and I think what we need to do as a country is to pray for him."

Mac Maharaj, Mr Zuma's spokesman, told the BBC's Newshour on Sunday said this was a stressful time for the Mandela family.

"I think there is need to be sombre about the news. There is a need not to hold out false hopes but at the same time let's keep him in our thoughts and let's will him more strength," he said.

Nelson Mandela's daughter, Makaziwe, whom he had with his first wife Evelyn, asked in an interview with CNN on Saturday for the family's privacy to be respected:

"Other people want to lecture us on how we should behave, and what we should do. Really, it's our dad, it's the children's grandfather. We've never had him in our life for the better part of our years. This is in a sense quality and sacred time for us, and I would expect the world to really back off and leave us alone."

The ANC - the party of Mr Mandela and Mr Zuma - said it "noted with concern" the latest reports, and that it joined the president in calling "for us all to keep Madiba, his family and medical team in our thoughts and prayers during this trying time".

Expert care

The BBC's Karen Allen reports from outside the Pretoria hospital that the mood in the country is sombre, and reality is sinking in.

It is not known what kind of condition precipitated the deterioration, she says.

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