'Madiba needs us more than he ever has'

Cyril Ramaphosa & Desmond Tutu have urged the nation to continue praying for Nelson Mandela.

Hundreds of people continue to show their support for ailing former president Nelson Mandela. Picture:Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN

JOHANNESBURG/QUNU - African National Congress Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu have urged the nation to continue praying for Nelson Mandela.

The former President remains in a critical but stable condition at the MediClinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, where he is being treated for a recurring lung infection. Mandela has been hospitalised for over three weeks.

Ramaphosa said the global icon needs all the support he can get during this difficult time.

"He needs us more than he has ever needed us. Let us pray for him and let us remain calm. He is in God's hands."

He added that although Madiba's condition remains critical he was being well looked after by his medical team.

"Let us just cross our fingers and hope he gets better."

Ramaphosa also signed a banner bearing well wishes and pledging support for the ailing statesman in Lenasia, which was dropped off at the hospital where Madiba is being treated.

Tutu, speaking in Cape Town where a Mandela Legacy Exhibition was launched on Sunday night, said the former president has once again united South Africans, this time in prayer.

The archbishop emeritus said although the nation's hearts were heavy, the country should take the time to realise how far it has come as a nation.

"We come here not to lament, not to mourn but to remember some of our most special moments with Madiba."

Tutu and Mandela have each won the Nobel Peace Prize and have both lived in Vilakazi Street in Soweto.

Meanwhile, a staff member at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu said that if she could, she would take Madiba's place in hospital.

Nokuzola Tetani said the last time she saw Mandela was in October last year, when she was invited to his home for lunch.

Tetani said when she was invited to the former president's home, she was relieved to see he was in good spirits.

"The manner in which he greeted his wife, 'Hello my love, how are you my darling?' I looked at this man and thought he is still Madiba, so full of love."

She said she is grateful for everything Madiba has done for people in Qunu.

"The visible development that you see around here is because of Madiba."

Like many others Tetani is keeping the ailing former statesman in her thoughts and prayers.

Meanwhile, locals attended a prayer service for Madiba in the village on Sunday.

There's been no official update from the presidency on the statesman's condition since last Thursday.