Mandela has shown 'great improvement': Ex-wife Winnie

SOWETO, South Africa (AFP) - The ex-wife of ailing Nelson Mandela on Friday said that the anti-apartheid icon's condition had improved in recent days, but he was still "unwell."

"From what he was a few days ago, there is great improvement, but clinically he is still unwell," Winnie Madikizela-Mandela said near the couple's old house in Soweto.

Madikizela-Mandela tirelessly campaigned for Mandela's release during his 27-year imprisonment under apartheid, becoming a household name in her own right.

But her image was tarnished by a series of scandals, including her links to the kidnap and murder of a young activist and a 2003 fraud conviction.

Madikizela-Mandela called on the media not to "get carried away" in their reporting on her former husband's illness.

"Please understand the sensitivities and the feeling of the family," she said.

"It can also happen that you have crossed the boundaries." Madikizela-Mandela remains an MP and a member of the ruling African National Congress party's national executive committee.

The pair, who officially separated in 1992, have two daughters together.