Mandela family asks for privacy to enjoy 'final sacred moments'
FORMER South African president Nelson Mandela, who is now critically ill in hospital with a lung infection, is "at peace" and his family is praying for a "smooth transition", his daughter Makaziwe said.
Ms Mandela (59), the sole surviving child from his first marriage to Evelyn, said the family were enjoying "quality and sacred moments" with Mr Mandela, who led South Africa out of apartheid into democratic elections in 1994.
"All we do every day is take one day at a time and pray to the good Lord," Mrs Mandela said in an interview with CNN.
"All I pray for as a daughter is that the transition is smooth. He is at peace with himself. He has given so much to the world. I believe he is at peace."
At the weekend, South Africa president Jacob Zuma visited Mr Mandela at the Pretoria hospital where he has been treated for the past two weeks and was told by doctors that his condition was "critical" for the first time since his admission.
His announcement of the downturn was greeted with intense sadness among South Africans.
Last week, it was suggested Mr Mandela might be recovering from the latest in a series of lung infections that have seen him in and out of hospital in the past year but such hopes are fading.
Friends of Mr Mandela were seen visiting him in hospital for the first time since his admission on June 8, along with his daughters and other members of his extended family.
Mr Mandela's granddaughters Swati Dlamini and Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway wrote on Twitter that the family was "united" at his bedside. "He is our rock, we are firmly glued together because of him," they said.
Makaziwe Mandela, speaking before the disclosure that her father was in a critical condition, appealed to the media to "back off".
"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," she told CNN.
Madiba, as he is affectionately known, is revered among most of South Africa's 53 million people as the architect of the 1994 transition to multi-racial democracy after three centuries of white domination.
However, his fourth hospital admission in six months has reinforced a realisation that the father of the post-apartheid 'Rainbow Nation' will not be around for ever – and ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa reflected the national mood when he told a news conference that Mandela remained critical. (© Daily Telegraph, London).