The office of President Jacob Zuma said in a statement that he had visited the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader at a hospital on Sunday evening and was informed by the medical team that Mandela's condition had become critical in the past 24 hours.
"The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well-looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands," Zuma said in the statement, using Mandela's clan name.
Zuma also met Graca Machel, Mandela's wife, at the hospital and discussed the former leader's condition, according to the statement.
Mandela, who became South Africa's first black president after the end of apartheid in 1994, was hospitalized on June 8 for what the government said was a recurring lung infection.
Zuma appealed to South Africans and the rest of the world to pray for Mandela, his family and the medical team that is attending to him.
Mandela was jailed for 27 years under white racist rule and was released in 1990. He then played a leading role in steering the divided country from the apartheid era to democracy, becoming South Africa's first black president in all-race elections in 1994.
As a result of his sacrifice and peacemaking efforts, he is seen by many around the world as a symbol of reconciliation.
More Nation & World Headlines
GOP field gathers, sans Trump Obama unveils plan to curb power plant emissions Senate blocks GOP bill to kill Planned Parenthood funds Police locate second missing Special Olympics athlete, a teen from Ivory Coast Shift in fortune reinforces California wildfire’s erratic behavior Florida man tries to carjack unmarked police car Former President Jimmy Carter undergoes liver operation Showing girl how to ‘safely draw a firearm,’ dad shoots her
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.