Nelson Mandela Not in Vegetative State: South Africa Prez
Court documents claimed he was on life support
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2013 2:15 PM CDT
Updated Jul 4, 2013 3:59 PM CDT
Lehlogonolo Nkosi, 7, holds a portrait of Nelson Mandela as she leaves the Mediclinic Heart Hospital where Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria, South Africa, July 3, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

(Newser) – The South African Presidency is walking back reports that Nelson Mandela is in a "permanent vegetative state." That assessment appeared on court documents, along with the news that doctors were recommending the former president be taken off life support, the Telegraph reports. But the office of the president released a statement today to clarify the media reports. It offers few details, but says Mandela is still "in a critical, but stable condition," and adds, "The doctors deny that the former President is in a vegetative state."

The court documents, which said Mandela was being kept alive by a breathing machine and faced "impending death," were revealed as part of a bitter family feud, the AP reports. The documents were filed in a case that resulted in Mandela's three deceased children being reburied in their original graves today. They had been moved by a Mandela grandson in 2011, but 15 family members took him to court last week to ensure the bodies went back to the original burial site, because they say that's what Mandela wants.