Hundreds gather outside Madiba hospital

The ANC members later made their way to the Pretoria Museum to hold a vigil for Nelson Mandela.

ANC members march for Madiba outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria. Picture:Christa Van der Walt/EWN

PRETORIA/QUNU- Hundreds of ANC members on Thursday gathered outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria where former president Nelson Mandela is being treated for a recurring lung infection.

The group, who were singing struggle songs in Madiba's honour, said it is now time for South Africans to unite.

Members left the hospital at around 7pm.

The crowd then boarded buses and made their way to the Pretoria Museum to pray for the country's first democratically elected president.

The crowd says it will continue to hold a vigil for Mandela.

Ordinary South Africans also gathered outside the facility where the ailing statesman is spending a 20th night in hospital.

MANDELA'S HEALTH IMPROVING

On Thursday afternoon, the Presidency released an update saying Madiba's condition improved overnight.

But the 94-year-old global icon remains in a critical but stable condition, the statement read.

President Jacob Zuma visited Madiba this morning for a second time in under 24 hours.

"He is much better today [Thursday] than he was when I saw him last night. The medical team continues to do a sterling job. We must pray for Tata's health and wish him well. We must also continue with our work and with daily activities while Madiba remains hospitalised," Zuma said through Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj.

Several members of the Mandela family also arrived at the facility amid reports they were summoned there.

Earlier in the day, Eyewitness News independently verified Mandela was on life support.

The Presidency also said it was disturbed by rumours about Mandela's health and appealed for respect for his dignity and privacy.

This is Mandela's fourth hospitalisation since December.

PRAY FOR MADIBA

Mandela's family urged South Africans to continue praying for the man dubbed "a hero of the world" by United States President Barack Obama.

Speaking on SAFM earlier on Thursday, Mandela's daughter Makaziwe said the family would continue to pray for him.

"He doesn't look good; I'm not going to lie. When we talk to him, he tries to open his eyes. When you touch him, he still responds. As long as Tata is still responding, that gives us hope."

Grandson Mandla says the family is grateful for the love and support it has received.

"We want to say to the country, as the family, that they should continue to pray for him."

CONCERNS IN QUNU

People in Mandela's home town of Qunu in the Eastern Cape remain concerned about his health.

Madiba grew up in the area and described it as a happy time in his life.

Residents from nearby areas visited the former president's retirement home.

Lumka Bam-Sibanyoni from Mthatha arrived at Mandela's home to drop off cards with her daughter, niece and nephew.

"It must be a very difficult time for his family. I can't imagine what they are going through."

Like many South Africans, she has been following updates on Madiba's condition on the news and on social networks.

"I've been up reading various newspapers and Facebook since about 4am."

But in Qunu, not all residents are able to keep up to date with the news as they do not have access to television and radio.

But they are keeping Madiba in their thoughts and prayers.

For the Presidency's full statement click here.