'Mandela not in a vegetative state'

The Presidency says Madiba remains in a critical but stable condition.

Former president Nelson Mandela in 2006. Picture: Sapa

JOHANNESBURG - The Presidency has denied that former President Nelson Mandela is in a vegetative state.

This follows international media reports that doctors have urged the former president's family to take him off life support and let him go.

In a statement issued on Thursday night the Presidency said doctors denied Mandela was in a vegetative state but remains in a critical but stable condition

The media reports cite court documents submitted in the family's burial dispute.

The statement follows President Jacob Zuma's visit to the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria where the ailing statesman is receiving treatment for a recurring lung infection.

According to the statement, Madiba is receiving the best medical care from a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals around the clock.

UNITY AND PRAYER

Mandela's grandson Zondwa says the family and the country should focus on unity and on Madiba's health.

"For as long as we can continue to spread the message to the South African public about the well-being of our grandfather, the positivity and unity of this country we'll overcome a lot."

He was responding to a question on whether a spat over the burial of Mandela's children could damage the family's reputation or even South Africa's image.

Zondwa, Mandela's wife Graca Machel and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale were among the guests at the launch of Nelson Mandela Sports and Culture Day on Thursday.

The event, being held on 17 August, will celebrate Mandela's legacy.

Chief Rabbi of South Africa's prayer for Madiba:

Dear G-d, Master of the Universe,

We, the people of South Africa, and indeed so many around the world, come before You in heartfelt prayer to beseech You to bless our former President, our beloved Madiba, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, at this time when he is so gravely ill and fighting for his life.

We ask You, O King, to protect Madiba from any pain and suffering, both physical and emotional, and to give him the strength, comfort and well-being he so desperately needs at this time.

We come together now, united in our belief in the power of prayer, and in Your compassion. We humbly give thanks to You, O L-rd, for giving us the gift of Nelson Mandela.

We are grateful for his heroic and selfless leadership of South Africa in guiding our country to freedom and democracy. We are grateful for his courage and dignity in adversity, and for his mighty power of forgiveness, which helped create this great nation. We are grateful for how he united us, and served as a dedicated and humble President.

In the merit of our unified prayers across this nation and the world, we also ask You, O L-rd G-d, to bless the people of this great country, of the miracle rainbow nation, and to inspire our hearts to walk in the path of Nelson Mandela, to live up to his majestic legacy.

And let us say Amen