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Mandela 'will go back home', says Thabo Mbeki

PRESIDENTIAL MEETING: Thabo Mbeki with Mandela in 2006 (PA)

CRITICALLY ILL Nelson Mandela may be discharged from hospital to recuperate at home, according to former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

The global icon has been hospitalised for more than five weeks with a recurring lung infection, which has led to four hospital stays in the last six months.

“I am quite certain that one of these days Madiba [Mandela] will go back home," Mbeki said at the weekend.

Official statements that South Africa’s first black president was critical but stable were correct, he said, at a memorial service in Pretoria on Saturday (July 13).

He added: “One of these days the doctors will agree that he can go and stay at home rather than in hospital.”

Mandela’s wife Graça Machel also said she was ‘less anxious’ about his condition.

“He continues to respond positively to treatment. I would say that today I am less anxious than I was a week ago,” she said.

Denis Goldberg, a white anti-apartheid activist and stalwart of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), contradicted that medical opinion presented in court, which stated that Mandela has been in a "vegetative state" for the last nine days and his family had discussed switching off his life support machine.

Goldberg, who was jailed for 22 years during the infamous Rivonia trial of 1964 that saw Mandela imprisoned for life, insisted that he had visited Mandela on Monday and “he is clearly a very ill man, but he responds to voices and tries to talk.”

He added: "He was dozing when I got there. I spoke and told him who I was and he opened his eyes and looked at me.

"I spoke to him for about ten minutes and he responded positively to what I was saying. He was aware of who I was."

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