Nelson Mandela is "critically ill" in hospital, the South African government has said.

In a statement issued on Sunday, president Jacob Zuma said doctors were "doing everything possible to get his condition to improve".

Mandela's health has been failing in recent years and he was hospitalized on June 8 for what the government said was a recurring lung infection.

Zuma, accompanied by ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, visited the former president and anti-apartheid leader earlier this evening.

The statement said the two were briefed by the medical team who informed them Mandela's condition had become critical over the past 24 hours.

Zuma said Mandela was being "well-looked after and is comfortable" and was "in good hands".

The full statement reads:

The condition of former President Nelson Mandela, who is still in
hospital in Pretoria, has become critical.

President Jacob Zuma, accompanied by ANC Deputy President, Mr Cyril
Ramaphosa, visited the former President this evening, 23 June in
hospital. They were briefed by the medical team who informed them that
the former President’s condition had become critical over the past 24
hours.

The President and Mr Ramaphosa also met with Mrs Graca Machel at the
hospital and discussed Madiba’s condition.

“The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to
improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well-looked after and is
comfortable. He is in good hands,” said President Zuma.

The President and Mr Ramaphosa were assured by the doctors that when
the ambulance transporting former President Mandela to hospital on the
8th of June developed engine problems, all care was taken to ensure
that his medical condition was not compromised.

“There were seven doctors in the convoy who were in full control of
the situation throughout the period. He had expert medical care. The
fully equipped military ICU ambulance had a full complement of
specialist medical staff including intensive care specialists and ICU
nurses. The doctors also dismissed the media reports that Madiba
suffered cardiac arrest. There is no truth at all in that report,"
said President Zuma.

President Zuma has appealed to the nation and the world to pray for
Madiba, the family and the medical team that is attending to him
during this difficult time.