Nelson Mandela 'responding well' to South Africa care

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Media captionHundreds of worshippers in Soweto gather to pray for Nelson Mandela

South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela is "responding well" to treatment, according to his doctor.

Mr Mandela who spent two nights at a hospital for a respiratory infection last week, is being treated by military doctors at his Johannesburg home.

Hundreds of South Africans held prayers services on Sunday for the speedy recovery of the liberation icon.

Mr Mandela was a political prisoner for 27 years but emerged to become the country's first black president.

A statement from Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said Mr Mandela had a "restful and peaceful night".

He also said that doctors were concerned about the number of people visiting Mr Mandela at his home in Houghton, a suburb in Johannesburg.

"We want to appeal to all that we accord the former president and his family the space to support him in privacy and dignity which he deserves," the statement said.

"Doctors must also be allowed to do their work without any undue pressure and in an atmosphere that allows them to carry on with their duties without any disturbance."

Andrew Mlangeni, one of Mr Mandela's fellow prisoners on Robben Island, visited him at the weekend

"He looks bright," said Mr Mlangeni, reports Sapa news agency.

"The doctors say he is responding well to treatment and what pleased me most, is he is able to recognise us."

'Positive attitude'

Image caption Nelson Mandela makes few public appearances these days

Media crews remain outside his home, where a team of military doctors is monitoring his health.

Mr Mandela contracted tuberculosis in 1988 while in jail on Robben Island and also had a respiratory infection eight years ago.

Officials say despite Mr Mandela's condition in hospital, he joked with staff and visitors.

"His amazing positive attitude allows him to cope with the difficulties of old age with the greatest of grace," said military surgeon general Dr Vejay Ramlakan.

Mr Mandela retired from public life in 2004 and has made very few public appearances in recent years.

On Friday only a brief view of his head covered by a surgical cap was visible as he was wheeled into an ambulance.

The former president is also an iconic figure beyond South Africa and officials said that his office had received more than 10,000 messages of support, including from US President Barack Obama.

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