Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition in hospital this morning as his daughter said the family will let God decide when it is time for him to goThe 94-year-old former South African president suffered a sudden deterioration in his health last night after being admitted to hospital two weeks ago for treatment for a recurrent lung infection.It is not known whether Mandela is on life-support - only that he is in a 'critical condition'.
But his eldest daughter Makaziwe Mandela has revealed the family will not end his medical treatment and only God can decide when his time has come to die.
South African authorities have announced that former president Nelson Mandela is in a 'critical condition'. He has been in hospital for two weeks for a recurring lung infection
We will not release him: Mandela's eldest daughter Makaziwe said his family will let God decide when the leader dies and they will not 'release him'
'My dad hasn’t said that to us. So these people who want to talk about, you know, release him, he hasn’t said we should release him and we haven’t come to the end yet. It is only God who knows the end.'
In an interview with CNN, she added that she believed her father, who she said can still open his eyes, was at peace. She said: 'Yes, I believe he is at peace. He is at peace with himself. He has given so much to the world I believe he is at peace.'
His granddaughter Ndileka Mandela added: 'He's fighting spirit is what amazes me. I don't know what keeps him fighting and he is stoic and determined, that I will end things my way. Not any other person's way.
'I strongly feel that whatever covenant he has made with his ancestors and god has not been fulfilled, when that is fulfilled he will bow out in a way that he chooses.'
Support: Nelson Mandela's daughter Makaziwe Mandela, accompanied by a family friend Bantu Holomisa, arrive at Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, Gauteng, today
Mandela's daughter Makaziwe Mandela pictured center with granddaughters Tukwini Mandela, left, and Ndileka Mandela, right, arrive at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where Nelson Mandela is being treated earlier this month
They wrote: 'He is our rock, we are firmly glued together because of him. We are UNITED!'
Their message came just a few hours after they asked supporters to pray for him. They posted: ‘Let us never forget to pray. God lives. He is near. He is real. He is not only aware of us but cares for us.’
News of Mandela’s condition emerged after he was visited by South African president Jacob Zuma last night. The South African president today urged his countrymen to pray for the 'father of democracy'.
He said: 'Madiba [Mandela's clan name] is critical in the hospital, and this is the father of democracy. This is the man who fought and sacrificed his life to stay in prison, the longest-serving prisoner in South Africa. He is one of those who has contributed to democracy.
South African President Jacob Zuma, pictured with Mr Mandela in April, said: 'Madiba is well-looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands'
Speaking at a press conference, he added: 'The doctors are doing everything possible to ensure his well-being and comfort.'
Pressed for further details on Nelson Mandela's health, President Jacob Zuma said: 'I can't tell you what is wrong with him ... I am not a doctor'.
He confirmed that he had seen Mr Mandela in hospital last night, and that he had been asleep at the time. He said he had discussions with the doctors and with Mr Mandela's wife.
Mr Zuma said he was briefed by Mr Mandela’s medical team and told that his condition had ‘become critical over the past 24 hours’.
Mr Zuma said in a statement last night: ‘The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba [Mandela’s clan name] is well-looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands.’
Former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela leaves the Pretoria hospital where Mandela is being treated in this June 14 picture
It was reported that his liver and kidney functions were down to 50 per cent and he had not opened his eyes for days.
Mr Mandela recently underwent two procedures at Pretoria Hospital, one to repair a bleeding ulcer and another to insert a tube into his body.
Last night his immediate family were said to be discussing whether to withdraw treatment.
Legacy: Mandela has been vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis during his 27 years behind bars under apartheid.
South African government officials have said ‘great care was taken to ensure that Mandela’s health was not compromised and that his doctors were satisfied the former president suffered no harm.’
Mr Mandela, who became South Africa’s first black president after the end of apartheid in 1994, was hospitalised on June 8.
He is revered for leading the fight against white minitory rule in South Africa and then preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.
He left power after five years as President.
The illness that has plagued the Nobel Peace Prize winner in recent years is believed to stem from damage to his lungs which he suffered while working in a prison quarry.
He contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while being held in jail on the notorious Robben Island.
Mandela has been hospitalised four times since December but last night’s confirmation of his grave condition is by far the most downbeat report ever given about his health.
Mandela has been undergoing hospital treatment since June 8 although all official statements had until last night described his condition as stable.
The status of Mr Mandela is likely to overshadow the visit later this week to South Africa by US President Barack Obama.
Graca Machel, Mr Mandela’s wife, was at his bedside last night. As well as suffering from tuberculosis, Mr Mandela has also been treated for the early signs of prostate cancer and had a knee replaced.
Well-wishers: Balloons and letters wishing Nelson Mandela well are displayed at the entrance of the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, where the former South African President is being treated
Heartfelt: Flowers and messages of support have been left outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, today
Beloved: Art work by pre-school children wishing former South African President Nelson Mandela well are displayed at the entrance of the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria today