Hope still flickers for Mandela

2013-06-28 10:18
 A woman holding a candle joins the crowd outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, to show appreciation and support for former president Nelson Mandela. (Ben Curtis, AP)

A woman holding a candle joins the crowd outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, to show appreciation and support for former president Nelson Mandela. (Ben Curtis, AP)

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Obama praises Mandela as a hero

2013-06-28 08:57

Watch President Obama talk about Nelson Mandela and the legacy he will leave behind. WATCH

Johannesburg - Candles of hope flickered outside the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on Friday morning for former president Nelson Mandela.

After a night of prayer services, an anxious nation waited for news from the presidency about his condition.

On Thursday, the presidency said Mandela was still critically ill, but had shown an improvement and his condition was stable.

Unlike in previous days, activity outside the hospital was a little slower on Friday, but the police were still in place, and Celliers Street remained cordoned off to traffic.

Messages

Passing office workers and foreign visitors paused to read a 15-metre long wall of messages, in the form of get-well notes and home-made cards, and to look at the flowers left for Mandela.

US President Barack Obama was expected in the country later on Friday.

His office has said he will take direction from the family on whether he should visit Mandela, who was admitted with a recurring lung infection on 8 June.

Cleaners worked steadily to remove candle wax, and sweep away dried petals and litter left by a massive gathering of people on Thursday and overnight.

Prayer meetings for Mandela spread across the country, but attention remained focused on the hospital, where relatives of South Africa's first, democratically-elected president have had to make their way through a growing swell of people to reach the entrance.

Mandela's daughter Makaziwe Mandela has criticised the media, especially the foreign media, which she called "vultures" in an SABC television interview on Thursday.

She said people should wait for the presidency's updates on Mandela's condition.

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