Mandela still 'critical but stable'

Nelson Mandela remains in a "critical but stable" condition, the South African government said Tuesday, after more than one month of intensive hospital treatment.

President Jacob Zuma thanked members of the public for their prayers and "dignified gatherings outside the hospital" in Pretoria where the 94-year-old apartheid hero was rushed on June 8.

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 an 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.

"He smiles," they said, adding that he also moves his eyes.

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.

It is Mandela's longest hospitalisation since he came out of prison in 1990.

Madiba's hospital stay has been overshadowed by a bitter family feud over the reburial of his three children.

Their remains were exhumed from the family graveyard in rural Qunu in 2011 by the icon's eldest grandson Mandla, and reburied in Mvezo -- where Mandela was born.

Last week, 15 members of the Mandela family led by his eldest daughter Makaziwe successfully sought an urgent court application forcing Mandla to return them.

The family has opened a case of grave tampering against Mandla, who is a traditional chief in the Mvezo village, which is Mandela's birthplace.

The Mandelas' spat prompted an impassioned plea from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, asking the family not to "besmirch" the peace icon's name.

He said it was like "spitting in Madiba's face."

Meanwhile, messages of support continue to pour in for the man regarded as the father of democratic South Africa.

In a recorded message, the Dalai Lama expressed his "admiration about the great man Nelson Mandela."

Members of the public including politicians have been also been posting messages on the wall outside the hospital and leaving flower bouquets on a daily basis.

On Tuesday afternoon, the king of AbaThembu, Mandela's clan, was seen driving into the hospital, accompanied by a group of men in traditional Xhosa beads, worn over suits.

Dalindyebo, who travelled from his village in the Eastern Cape province later went to Mandela's suburban house north of Johannesburg.

Dalindyebo is among those people who have voiced concern about the Mandela family feud.

Security at the hospital remains tight, with police searching vehicles entering the premises.

South Africans are preparing to celebrate Mandela's 95th birthday on July 18.

The day is dedicated to doing good deeds for others, in honour of the icon's selfless struggle.

Several international personalities, including Sir Richard Branson, Bill Clinton and Tutu have voiced their support for what is known as Mandela Day.