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Madiba 'is bringing us together again'

An Anglican priest says South Africans should be grateful for the legacy Madiba will leave behind.

FILE: A screengrab of a video showing former President Nelson Mandela singing "Twinkle, twinkle little star".

PRETORIA - Nelson Mandela's first visitors for the day have arrived at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where he is being treated for a lung infection.

His eldest daughter Makaziwe and several grandchildren have arrived to visit the former President.

Mandela was admitted to the hospital three weeks ago in a serious condition. His condition turned to critical days later and he remains on life support. On Thursday afternoon, The Presidency said the statesman's condition had improved, and he was "critical but stable".

Throughout his hospital stay, Madiba's family members and his ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, have visited him daily, sometimes even travelling there twice a day.

The mainstay has been the former President's wife Graca Machel who has spent most of her time at his bed side often sleeping at the facility.

At the same time, South Africans have been showing their support outside the hospital by leaving messages of support and love on a tribute wall nearby.

EXHUMING MANDELA GRAVES

It is unclear when the remains of three Mandela family members will be exhumed and moved back from Mvezo to Qunu after local chiefs confirmed permission for the reburial has been granted.

The graves of Nelson Mandela's children were dug up in 2011 on instruction from his grandson Mandla, apparently without proper consultation with the rest of the clan, and they were moved to Mvezo. Mandla is the chief of the Mvezo tribe.

During a meeting this week, the family decided to move the remains back to Qunu.

AbaThembu chief Mfundo Mthirara has confirmed that the remains will be reburied in Qunu but he won't give any further details.

The City Press reported that the chief of Qunu has given the Mandela family permission to exhume the remains.

A spokesperson for Mandla says he has no issues with any authorised person in the family repatriating any or all of the graves.

The Eastern Cape Health Department says normally when remains are exhumed a request is made to the department or a magistrate, and once approved the remains are exhumed in the presence of an environmental officers dispatched by the local municipality.

PRAYERS FOR MADIBA

Meanwhile, the University of Cape Town's Anglican chaplain, Father Matthew Essau, says although this is a sad time for all South Africans "Tata" Madiba is bringing the nation together once again.

A small group of Capetonians gathered in the St. George's Cathedral on Thursday for a vigil for Mandela and will meet there again later on Friday.

A number of prayer meetings have been held for Madiba across the country in the past few days.

Essau says it is inspiring to see South Africans supporting each other in this sad time.

"It's been remarkable how all the regions have come together to pray for Madiba. It's a thing almost as amazing as the 2010 World Cup."

Essau says South Africans should be forever grateful for the legacy Madiba is leaving behind.

"People are coming together to pray to thank God for giving us Madiba and to thank Madiba for pursuing the struggle on our behalf."

Essau says he is thankful for what Madiba has done for South Africa.

"As I am speaking to you now I want to cry but it's happiness, a thanksgiving tear."