Nelson Mandela 'responding to treatment' - Jacob Zuma

People gather for Nelson Mandela outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where he is being treated for a lung infection on June 30, 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image caption South Africa is preparing to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday on 18 July

Nelson Mandela is responding to treatment but remains in a critical condition, South African President Jacob Zuma said after visiting him.

The former president and global statesman, 94, has been in hospital battling a recurring lung infection since 8 June.

President Zuma's statement urged the public to continue "providing support and showering him with love".

People who have seen him say he remains responsive.

"We are encouraged that Madiba is responding to treatment," said President Zuma, referring to Mr Mandela by his clan name.

The head of Mr Mandela's Thembu tribe, King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, told the AFP news agency on Wednesday that he was "conscious" when he visited his hospital in Pretoria.

"He could not talk, but he recognised me and made a few gestures of acknowledgement, like moving his eyes," he said.

Last week, President Zuma denied reports that Mr Mandela was in a vegetative state.

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Media captionKing Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo: "I found him looking better... he showed a sign of response."

Mr Mandela is revered across the world for his role in the fight against white minority rule in South Africa.

He was jailed for 27 years, before being freed in 1990 and elected president in 1994.

Since Mr Mandela was hospitalised, his family's battle for control of his legacy has escalated.

Last week, his grandson Mandla lost a court case brought by rival family members over the burial site of three of Mr Mandela's children.

Mandla had relocated the bodies to his village of Mvezo without the rest of the family's consent. However, the court ruled that the bodies should be reinterred in the family graveyard in Qunu. He may now face criminal charges for alleged grave tampering.

After visiting Mr Mandela, King Dalindyebo said he was doing all he can to give the former leader peace of mind over the affair.