JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – The South African government said Tuesday that ailing icon Nelson Mandela remains in a "critical but stable" condition after more than one month of intensive hospital treatment.
In a statement, President Jacob Zuma thanked members of the public for their "dignified gatherings outside the hospital" in Pretoria where he was rushed June 8 and for services that have offered prayers for the 94-year-old hero.
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 a more 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.
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.