Nelson Mandela's daughter has launched a verbal attack on the "racist" media describing coverage of the South African icon's declining health as being like "vultures waiting for when the lion has devoured the buffalo."

mandela daughter

Makaziwe Mandela has rounded on the foreign press

Speculation about Mr Mandela's condition reached fever pitch after current President Jacob Zuma cancelled a foreign trip shortly after visiting the 94-year-old on Thursday. He released a statement on Thursday saying Mr Mandela's condition has "improved".

Crowds are now gathering outside the hospital in Pretoria and one website has even published that the first black president of South Africa has already died.

nelson mandela

Ethiopian supporters show their support for Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital

nelson mandela

Speaking on South African public broadcaster SABC Makaziwe Mandela said: "He doesn't look good, I'm not going to lie. But as I say, if we speak to him, he responds and tries to open his eyes. He's still there. He might be waning off, but he's still there.

"There is a racist element with many of the international media where they cross boundaries - truly vultures waiting for when the lion has devoured the buffalo, it has gone overboard."

She went on to say that media didn't act in a similar way when Margaret Thatcher died and it was only happening now because Mr Mandela was from an African country and people has lost "respect" for the family.

Earlier, Mandela's granddaughter Mdileka said it was a difficult time for the family.

"He's stable and we'd like to say that we thank everybody for giving their support and praying with us... we are anxious as you know that he is critical but he's in a stable condition right now," she said.

"It's been hard, especially because of all of this - that we have to do everything in the public eye."

In a statement issued earlier this week, 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.

Loading Slideshow...
  • South Africa Mandela

    Ethiopian supporters show their support for Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Ndaba Mandela, Grandson of Nelson Mandela leaves the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Ndaba Mandela, Grandson of Nelson Mandela leaves the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    A supporter shows his support outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • The motorcade of South African President Jacob Zuma leaves the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa Thursday, June 27, 2013. Makaziwe Mandela, daughter of Nelson Mandela, said Thursday Nelson Mandela is in very critical condition but is still opening his eyes and reacting to touch at the South African hospital where he is being treated. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

  • An arriving wellwisher carries a portrait of Nelson Mandela as he walks down the street outside the entrance to the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa Thursday, June 27, 2013. Makaziwe Mandela, daughter of Nelson Mandela, said Thursday he is in very critical condition but is still opening his eyes and reacting to touch at the South African hospital where he is being treated. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

  • South Africa Mandela

    A painting with a "Get Well Message" handed over by the Children from the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu to a Mandela family representative outside Nelson Mandela's Home in Qunu Village in the Eastern Cape South Africa on the 26th June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Crowds gather outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • Women pray for former South African President Nelson Mandela at the Presbyterian church, at the Nelson Mandela museum in Qunu, South Africa, Thursday, June 27, 2013. A daughter of Nelson Mandela says he is in very critical condition but is still opening his eyes and reacting to touch at the South African hospital where he is being treated. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

  • A woman weeps as she and others pray for former South African President Nelson Mandela at the Presbyterian church, at the Nelson Mandela museum in Qunu, South Africa, Thursday, June 27, 2013. A daughter of Nelson Mandela says he is in very critical condition but is still opening his eyes and reacting to touch at the South African hospital where he is being treated. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

  • South Africa Mandela

    Ethiopian supporters show their support for Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Phathekile Holomisa, President of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa talking to the Media at the Umthatha Airport about Nelson Mandela's condition in the Eastern Cape South Africa on the 26th June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    A painting with a "Get Well Message" handed over by the Children from the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu to a Mandela family representative outside Nelson Mandela's Home in Qunu Village in the Eastern Cape South Africa on the 26th June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Phathekile Holomisa, President of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa talking to the Media at the Umthatha Airport about Nelson Mandela's condition in the Eastern Cape South Africa on the 26th June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    A Zimbabwean painter paints a portrait of Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Ethiopian supporters show their support for Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Ethiopian supporters show their support for Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    A painting with a "Get Well Message" handed over by the Children from the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu to a Mandela family representative outside Nelson Mandela's Home in Qunu Village in the Eastern Cape South Africa on the 26th June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Phathekile Holomisa, President of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa talking to the Media at the Umthatha Airport about Nelson Mandela's condition in the Eastern Cape South Africa on the 26th June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    A Zimbabwean painter paints a portrait of Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Posters and letters adorn the wall outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Phathekile Holomisa, President of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa talking to the Media at the Umthatha Airport about Nelson Mandela's condition in the Eastern Cape South Africa on the 26th June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Winnie Mandela arrives at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Winnie Mandela arrives at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    A painting with a "Get Well Message" handed over by the Children from the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu to a Mandela family representative outside Nelson Mandela's Home in Qunu Village in the Eastern Cape South Africa on the 26th June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Ethiopian supporters show their support for Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    A painting with a "Get Well Message" handed over by the Children from the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu to a Mandela family representative outside Nelson Mandela's Home in Qunu Village in the Eastern Cape South Africa on the 26th June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    President Jacob Zuma leaves the hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    President Jacob Zuma leaves the hospital in which Nelson Mandela receives treatment at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Winnie Mandela leaves the Mediclinic Heart Hospital with her daughter Zindzi Mandela as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Crowds gather outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • SAFRICA-POLITICS-HEALTH-MANDELA

    The daughter of former South African President Nelson Mandela, Makaziwe (R), arrives on June 27, 2013 at the Medi Clinic Heart hospital in Pretoria, where the ailing leader is on life support. As South Africans prayed for the anti-apartheid hero who defeated decades of racist white minority rule to became the country's first black president, President Jacob Zuma late on June 26 abruptly cancelled a trip to Mozambique after he visited the hospital where Mandela is critically ill. It is the first time Zuma has scrapped a public engagement since Mandela was hospitalized nearly three weeks ago. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • South Africa Mandela

    General View outside the hospital in which Nelson Mandela spent another night at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on 25 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Media contingent outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Messages from School kids wishing Former South African President Nelson Mandela a speedy recovery at his Houghton Home

  • South Africa Mandela

    Messages from School kids wishing Former South African President Nelson Mandela a speedy recovery at his Houghton Home.

  • South Africa Mandela

    Messages from School kids wishing Former South African President Nelson Mandela a speedy recovery at his Houghton Home

  • South Africa Mandela

    SAPS members and military personnel in discussion at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Zinzi Mandela leave the the hospital in which Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • SAFRICA-POLITICS-HEALTH-MANDELA

    The daughter of former South African President Nelson Mandela, Makaziwe (R), arrives on June 27, 2013 at the Medi Clinic Heart hospital in Pretoria, where the ailing leader is on life support. As South Africans prayed for the anti-apartheid hero who defeated decades of racist white minority rule to became the country's first black president, President Jacob Zuma late on June 26 abruptly cancelled a trip to Mozambique after he visited the hospital where Mandela is critically ill. It is the first time Zuma has scrapped a public engagement since Mandela was hospitalized nearly three weeks ago. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • South Africa Mandela

    Winnie Mandela leaves the Mediclinic Heart Hospital with her daughter Zindzi Mandela as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Heart Mediclinic Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • South Africa Mandela

    Makaziwe Mandela (l) Ndileka Mandela and Ndaba Mandela (back) leave the Mediclinic Heart Hospital as Nelson Mandela spends his 19th day in Hospital at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital, Pretoria, South Africa on 26 June 2013

  • Makaziwe Mandela, Ndileka Mandela, Ndaba Mandela

    Grandson Ndaba Mandela, left, granddaughter Ndileka Mandela, center, and daughter Makaziwe Mandela, right, arrive to visit for a second time today the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa Wednesday, June 26, 2013. There was no word early Wednesday on 94-year-old Mandela's condition, which was critical a day earlier, according to the government. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

  • Ndaba Mandela

    Grandson Ndaba Mandela arrives to visit the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa Wednesday, June 26, 2013. There was no word early Wednesday on 94-year-old Mandela's condition, which was critical a day earlier, according to the government. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)