In an exclusive interview with CNN international anchor and correspondent Robyn Curnow, Nelson Mandela's daughter Makaziwe tells of her family's prayers for her critically ill father
Makaziwe: With all of this media frenzy, the camping in the hospital, you know people talking about things they don’t know or understand basically. Other people want to lecture us on how we should behave, what we should do. Really? It’s our dad, it’s the children’s grandfather.
We’ve never had him in our life for better part of our years. This is in a sense quality and sacred time for us and I would expect the world to really back off and leave us alone.
Curnow: Some people have said that the family should let him go, that the doctors should let him go as if there’s a choice that needs to be made.
Makaziwe: In our culture, the Tembu culture, that I know, the African culture that I know you never release the person unless the person has told you please my children, my family release me. My dad hasn’t said that to us.
So these people who want to talk about, you know, release him, he hasn’t said we should release him and we haven’t come to the end yet. It is only God who knows the end.
Curnow: Is he aware of just how sick he is, or has he gone already, even if he’s physically here?
Makaziwe: No, I don’t think he’s gone. He’s still there. He still opens his eyes, he still, the touch is there.
Singing of choir outside hospital. On a cold winter's night.they came to sing for Nelson Mandela.
Robyn Curnow: If he heard you tonight what is the message you send him?
Girl (from the crowd): That God is a wonderful God...No matter how sick he is. God has a plan for everything.
Behind one of these hospital windows, the 94-year-old Mandela battles a lung infection in the intensive care unit. His wife Graca sleeps here every night.
Makaziwe: I want him to be comfortable.
Robyn Curnow: When you say comfortable is that all that can be done for him now?
Makaziwe: When you say is that all that can be done, no. They haven't stopped treating him with all the best medicine in the world.
All we do everyday is take one day at a time and pray to the good lord. When the time comes for him to transcend, transition into the spiritual realm. All I pray for as a daughter is that the transition is smooth. Be very pleasant.
Curnow: Do you think he is at peace?
Makaziwe: Yes, I believe he is at peace. He is at peace with himself. He has given so much to the world I believe he is at peace.
While he is at peace, they say they are angry, uncomfortable with the intense media interest
Makaziwe: It is our dad, it is our dad. Nelson Mandela's blood runs through these veins. Our veins. Give us the space to be with our father. Whether these are the last moments with us to be with our dad or there is still a longer. But they must back off.
For them, Mandela is not the global icon. He's a father, a grandfather, who they don't want to share with the world at this critical time.
Ndileka Mandela, Mandela's granddaughter: We are claiming him.
And so they wait. And hope.
Ndileka: He's fighting spirit is what amazes me. I don't know what keeps him fighting and he is stoic and determined, that I will end things my way. Not any other person's way. I strongly feel that whatever covenant he has made with his ancestors and god has not been fulfilled, when that is fulfilled he will bow out in a way that he chooses.
Flames flicker, hymns are sung, a family asks for space and a great man fights.
Picture: Makaziwe Mandela, the eldest daughter of former South African President Nelson Mandela
Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters