Winnie: Mandela's bedroom looks like ICU ward

South Africa
File: Former South African President Nelson Mandela's Houghton residence. The international icon is said to be attended to by a team of 22 doctors since his release from Pretoria's Mediclinic Heart hospital. Picture:

JOHANNESBURG - Former president Nelson Mandela remains "quite ill" as he convalesces at his home in Houghton, his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela told the Sunday Independent.

"The bedroom there [in Houghton] is like an ICU ward. He remains quite ill," she was quoted as saying in the newspaper.

Madikizela-Mandela said Mandela had also lost the use of his voice because of tubes in his mouth to clear fluid off his lungs.

"Though the pneumonia has cleared, his lungs remain sensitive, hence the tubes."

She said this had left Mandela unable to speak.

"He communicates with the face, you see. But the doctors have told us they hope to recover his voice".

Madikizela-Mandela denied he was on life support. "I have heard this nonsense that he is on life support. He is not."

She said 22 doctors were on the team attending to him.

Madikizela-Mandela said it was good for Mandela to be home "in an atmosphere he recognises".

"When he is very relaxed, he is fine and it has given us a lot of hope."

Madikizela-Mandela's comments come two weeks after African National Congress stalwart Tokyo Sexwale told the media Mandela did not consider himself ill.

"Madiba says of his health: 'I am not ill, I'm just old," Sexwale told reporters at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton at the time.

Earlier this year, Mandela spent almost three months in Pretoria Heart Mediclinic hospital for a recurring lung infection before being discharged on September 1 to continue treatment at home.

-Sapa

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