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Winnie says Mandela still 'clinically unwell'

Sapa

Former president Nelson Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has thanked the media gathered outside their old house in Soweto.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. (Catalina Farias, M&G)

"We are very very happy to be in a situation to interact with you directly in this manner ... and we are hoping that we will, from time to time be speaking to you in this fashion," she told journalists outside the house in Vilakazi Street, Orlando West.

"It is very special for us that you are here in Orlando where it all began."

Madikizela-Mandela said Mandela's condition had improved over recent days, but he was still "clinically unwell".

She said the family was available to answer any questions, except those regarding Mandela's medical condition.

"We are available anytime to answer any questions which we can answer."

Her statement was in contrast to her stepdaughter, Makaziwe Mandela, who criticised the media in an interview with the SABC on Thursday.

Makaziwe is the daughter of Nelson Mandela and his first wife, Evelyn Mase. Makaziwe said the media, especially foreign media, were racist, disrespectful, and like "vultures waiting for a carcass".

"We don't mind the interest, but I just think it has gone overboard. You can't even enter the hospital or go out because they are making such a nuisance," she said in the interview.

Not a vulture but a drone
Meanwile, ​FC Hamman, a South African freelance film-maker, was escorted away by police along with the helicopter camera he was flying with his 21-year-old son Timothy outside the clinic where Mandela (94) has spent three weeks with a lung infection.

"As far as I know, I didn't do anything wrong," Hamman told Reuters by phone from the office in the hospital compound where he was taken by police.

He said he was waiting to be interviewed by senior officers and for them to view the footage filmed.

"We were careful not to fly over the hospital," Hamman said.

He said he had intended to offer to media organisations the aerial shots of intense activity around the hospital, where crowds of jostling journalists have mingled with well-wishers paying tribute to Mandela.

Permit needed
Hamman said he had already used the home-built flying camera in other film projects and had also assisted police with surveillance work in operations against suspected drug-dealers in the crime-plagued Johannesburg suburb of Eldorado Park.

Police had not so far pressed any charges, he said.

"You can't fly one of those things without a permit," one police officer said at the hospital after Hamman was escorted away.

Pretoria police declined to comment further.

The incident came just hours before US President Barack Obama was due to start an official visit to South Africa, including stops in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Asked how he thought Obama's huge security detail might react if he launched the flying "eye in the sky" in the vicinity of the president, Hamman chuckled: "That would be a mistake."

Tribute wall
Meanwhile, some people were still bringing presents, mainly flowers, and leaving them at a section of the hospital's wall, which had been turned into a shrine to Mandela. 

Mandela's family said the former president was still critically ill, but stable when they visited him on Friday, according to the Free State premier and ANC chairperson in the province, Ace Magashule, who spoke to them at the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on Friday.

"They said Madiba is better than any other day. He is fine. They saw him this morning," Magashule told people gathered outside the hospital.

"That is the message that is motivating and inspiring them," he said.

He did not go into Mandela's ward, but visited the hospital to be among the South Africans there.

International media started asking him about the survival of the ANC, the governing party Mandela once led, should he die. Magashule mentioned the names of previous ANC presidents, such as Albert Luthuli and Oliver Tambo, and said the party was "still standing".

He said there would be prayer meetings throughout the Free State in honour of Mandela, and for Mandela to get well.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said few ANC leaders had been into Mandela's ward to see him.

President Jacob Zuma, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, and the party's treasurer general Zweli Mkhize were the only officials to have visited him. "All of us have decided not to go to his ward for the reason that we want him to get well," said Mthembu.

Earlier, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula arrived, to join family members Makaziwe and Ndileka Mandela. – Sapa, Reuters

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