Mandela 'responds to treatment'

Former South African President Nelson Mandela is "responding to treatment", according to an official statement tonight, but is still in a critical condition in hospital.

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Mandela was in a 'permanent vegetative state'

Former South African President Nelson Mandela was in a "permanent vegetative state" and his family considered switching off his life support machine, according to a court document obtained by AFP.

The legal document, dated June 26, was related to a family dispute over reburying the remains of three of the anti-apartheid leader's children, the news agency said.

The document reportedly read:

He is in a permanent vegetative state and is assisted in breathing by a life support machine.

The Mandela family have been advised by the medical practitioners that his life support machine should be switched off.

Rather than prolonging his suffering, the Mandela family is exploring this option as a very real probability.

– Legal document seen by AFP

The next day, June 27, South African President Jacob Zuma said Mandela's condition had "improved during the night".

Mandela remains "critical but stable" in hospital, the presidency said today.

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