Durban – The family of former first lady Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has pleaded with the public and the media to give them privacy with during her illness and hospitalisation, her spokesperson said on Sunday. “The family appreciates the well wishes, but they would like the media and everybody else to respect their privacy,” said Madikizela-Mandela’s personal assistant, Zodwa Zwane. Zwane, in a statement dated April 11, said Madikizela-Mandela was admitted to hospital on March 7 and underwent surgery on her back on March 8. She said the ANC stalwart was scheduled for follow-up surgery on April 14."The family is thankful for your prayers and support whilst they appreciate your respect for their privacy,” read the statement. Zwane would not be drawn on giving News24 further details on Madikizela-Mandela's health.Struggling to recoverA source close to the family told News24 that Madikizela-Mandela was struggling to recover from the back operation. “Her being a diabetic does not help either. Remember she is old as well,” said the source, who asked not to be named.The Presidency in a statement wished 79-year-old Madikizela-Mandela a speedy recovery on Saturday, saying that she was in a stable condition."We wish Mama Winnie a speedy recovery. We also urge the nation to keep her and the Mandela family in their thoughts and prayers during this time," said President Jacob Zuma.The High Court in Mthatha recently dismissed Madikizela-Mandela's application for ownership of her late husband Nelson Mandela’s home in Qunu. The couple divorced in 1996.