Nelson Mandela improvement 'sustained'

A young boy poses for a photograph of him holding a portrait of Nelson Mandela next to a wall of get-well messages and flowers laid outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa Monday, July 8, 2013.
Image caption Nelson Mandela's illness has caused widespread anxiety

South Africa's first democratically elected President Nelson Mandela, 95, is showing "sustained improvement" in hospital, a government statement says.

However, he remains in a critical condition, said the statement from President Jacob Zuma's office.

Mr Mandela was admitted to a private hospital in the capital, Pretoria, on 8 June with a recurring lung infection.

Revered as the father of the nation, he celebrated his 95th birthday in hospital last week.

Mr Zuma visited Mr Mandela on Monday and assured him of "the love and support of all South Africans", the statement said.

Family row

Mr Mandela became South Africa's president in 1994 after white minority rule ended.

He spent 27 years in prison after taking up arms to fight for democracy.

Mr Mandela's grandson Mandla, who went to see him on Sunday, said the former president was getting "stronger and stronger every day".

Hs grandfather's recovery "flies in the face of those who have been busy spreading lies that Madiba [Mr Mandela's clan name] is in a vegetative state and just waiting for his support machines to be switched off," he said in a statement, Reuters news agency reports.

Last month, Mandla was involved in a bitter row with other family members about Mr Mandela's burial place and that of three of his children.

In court papers, Mandla's aunt, Makaziwe, described Mr Mandela's health as "perilous" and said he was "assisted in breathing by a life-support machine".

The court ruled against Mandla, and ordered that the remains of three of Mr Mandela's children should be moved from Mvezo, where Mandla has built a Mandela memorial centre, to Qunu, where Mr Mandela reportedly wants to be buried.

Mandla was accused by Makaziwe of transferring the remains in 2011 from Qunu to Mvezo to "force" Mr Mandela's funeral to take place in Mvezo.

Mandla denied the allegation and said his relatives were fighting him because they wanted to control Mr Mandela's legacy.

Mandla arose to prominence in 2007 after he became the traditional ruler of Mr Mandela's clan with the backing of the former president.

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