Former South African President Nelson Mandela is responding to touch and is “still there”, his eldest daughter Makaziwe said on Thursday after visiting the critically ill anti-apartheid leader in hospital.

Ndileka Mandela said the 94-year-old’s family were taking comfort from messages of support from the public.

After visiting her grandfather in hospital, Mdileka Mandela said it was an anxious time for the family.

“He’s stable and we’d like to say that we thank everybody for giving their support and praying with us… we are anxious as you know that he is critical but he’s in a stable condition right now,” she said.

“It’s been hard, especially because of all of this – that we have to do everything in the public eye.”

Meanwhile his daughter Makaziwe said he was “still there” and responding to touch.

“I won’t lie, it doesn’t look good. But as I say, if we speak to him, he responds and tries to open his eyes. He’s still there. He might be waning off, but he’s still there,” she told SABC radio.

She was also highly critical of the behaviour of the international media, whom she described as “vultures” for violating his privacy as he lay critically ill in hospital..

Mr Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj said on Wednesday evening that Mr Mandela’s condition had deteriorated over the weekend.

After consultations with doctors, Mr Zuma said he was cancelling his trip to a regional summit in the Mozambican capital Maputo.

The statement from his office said he “reiterated his gratitude on behalf of government, to all South Africans who continue to support the Madiba family”.

The decision will only reinforce the impression that Mr Mandela’s life is slipping away, the BBC’s Mike Wooldridge reports from Johannesburg.

But later Mr Zuma’s office warned against speculation about Mr Mandela’s health, saying that announcements about his condition would come from the president himself or Mr Maharaj.

Mr Maharaj criticised some media outlets for broadcasting unverified information, as rumours spread on social media sites.

Meanwhile media reports say the bodies of three of Mr Mandela’s children are to be moved from his birthplace to his home in Qunu, where he himself has said he wants to be buried.

They include his son Makgatho, who died of an Aids-related illness in 2005.

Mr Mandela is revered for leading the fight against white minority rule in South Africa and then preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected president the following year. He left office in 1999 after a single term.