Machel flies back to be with Madiba

Graça Machel has cancelled a London trip to be with the ailing Nelson Mandela.

Former president Nelson Mandela relaxes with his wife Graca Machel at his Houghton home in Johannesburg, Monday, 16 May 2011 after casting his special vote for the 2011 local government elections. Picture: GCIS/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - As Nelson Mandela remains in a serious condition in a Pretoria hospital, his wife Gra├ža Machel has cancelled an appearance in London.

The Presidency issued a statement this morning saying Madiba has been ill for the past few days and his condition deteriorated in the early hours of Saturday morning.

It is the 94-year-old statesman's fourth stay in hospital for a recurring lung infection since December.

Britain's _ITV _has reported that Machel was set to appear at a hunger summit in London today but has cancelled for personal reasons.

It is understood she has flown back to South Africa to be with her ailing husband.

The Presidency's Mac Maharaj says the lung infection resurfaced a few days ago.

"The doctors found his condition had deteriorated by 1:30am. They then hospitalised him in Pretoria. They are giving him the best possible attention."

Maharaj says this is a condition Madiba has suffered from since his time in prison.

"When he was younger the recovery was easier and quicker of late the infection returns from time to time and it is successfully treated. This time the doctors said the situation in spite of the treatment at home had reached a point where they felt it was serious enough to take him to hospital."

Meanwhile, journalists are still lining the street outside the Pretoria hospital where the former statesman is believed to be receiving top medical care.

At the same time, Lead SA has called on the nation to pray for Mandela.

Lead SA's Yusuf Abramjee says, "We call on religious organisations and leaders to organise special prayers in churches, mosques and temples. Let's have a national day of prayer today and tomorrow."

The Democratic Alliance's Mmusi Maimaine has also wished Madiba a speedy recovery.

"When we met as the national executive today we were thinking and discussing his health in this regard."

Messages from all over the globe are streaming in for Madiba.

People are using all social networks including Facebook and Twitter.

Messages from the likes of British Prime Minister David Cameron have been seen as well as Cosatu leader Zwelinzima Vavi.

Proteas cricketer AB de Villiers earlier tweeted "Get well soon Madiba" while the Highveld Lions official account wrote "thoughts and prayers are with Madiba."

The ANC, DA, and Proudly South Africa are among the organisations that have issued statements for the former president to get well soon.