News / Africa

Ex-Wife Sees 'Great Improvement' in Mandela

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela addresses the media in front the house of her former husband and former South African President Nelson Mandela in Soweto, June 28, 2013.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela addresses the media in front the house of her former husband and former South African President Nelson Mandela in Soweto, June 28, 2013.
VOA News
The former wife of Nelson Mandela says his health has shown "great improvement" over the past few days.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela spoke to reporters outside Mandela's former home in Soweto Friday as the former South African president spent his 20th day in a Pretoria hospital.

Officially, the 94-year-old Mandela remains in critical but stable condition.

On Thursday,  Mandela's daughter Makaziwe said her father did not look good, but was still opening his eyes and responding to touch.

Dozens of well-wishers held a candlelight vigil throughout the night, delivering flowers and messages of support for the anti-apartheid icon.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who begins a three-day visit to South Africa Friday, said his thoughts and prayers are with Mandela, the country's first black president.

On Thursday, White House officials say they will leave it up to the Mandela family to decide whether President Obama will visit Mandela.  

Mandela has remained at Pretoria's Mediclinic Heart Hospital since he was rushed there June 8 for a recurring lung infection.

On Tuesday, Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba offered a prayer that the former president be granted a "peaceful, perfect end."

Mandela is considered a national hero in South Africa for his role in ending official racial discrimination and white-minority rule.  After spending 27 years in prison, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

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