Nelson Mandela's ex-wife has said that the anti-apartheid icon is showing signs of improvement, but still remains in "clinically unwell".
Speaking from outside the couple's former home in Soweto on Friday, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said that he was showing "great improvement" in his health compared to a few days ago.
"I'm not a doctor but I can say that from what he was a few days ago there is great improvement," she said.
She also urged the media to respect boundaries and the privacy of the family, but tempered previous criticism levelled against international journalists somewhat by saying that if the family seemed bitter, it was because they were dealing with a difficult situation.
"We just thank you for your support. We had no idea of the love out there for us in our particular situation," she said.
"It is difficult to understand seeming impatience of media, [we are] appealing to you for understanding."
The address comes as anti-Obama protesters are said to be marching on the hospital where Mandela is being treated.
US President Barack Obama is due to arrive in South Africa on Friday, and had originally planned to meet with Mandela.
As the 94-year-old's condition remains critical, however, Obama said he will be led entirely by the wishes of Mandela's family.
"We'll see what the situation is when we land. I do not need a photo op," Obama said en route to the country, where he will spend the three days as part of a three-nation Africa trip.
"The last thing I want to do is to be in any way obtrusive at a time when the family is concerned about Nelson Mandela's condition."
Mandela, who turns 95 next month, was rushed to hospital three weeks ago with a recurring lung disease.
"I think that the message we'll want to deliver is not directly to him but to his family, is simply profound gratitude for his leadership all these years," Obama said.
Obama said he wanted to let Mandela's family know "that the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with him and his family and his country."
Reflections on Mandela's extraordinary journey from prisoner to president will permeate Obama's stay, but would not change the message of his trip.
"The lesson will be consistent because it draws on the lessons of Nelson Mandela's own life."
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies