Mandela's oldest daughter slams media 'vultures'

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Nelson Mandela's oldest daughter on Thursday slammed the "crass" media frenzy around her critically ill father, likening the press to vultures.

Ms Mandela accused the foreign media of "a racist element" by crossing cultural boundaries and being a "nuisance" at her father's Pretoria hospital where he is on life support.

"It's like truly vultures waiting when a lion has devoured a buffalo, waiting there you know for the last carcasses, that's the image that we have as a family," Makaziwe Mandela told the state broadcaster SABC. "And we don't mind the interest but I just think that it has gone overboard."

As well as staking out the hospital, journalists had also camped out during the family's visit this week to Mr Mandela's childhood village, in the rural Eastern Cape. "They violate all boundaries," she said. "Is it because we're an African country that people just feel they can't respect any laws of this country, they can violate everything in the book? I just think it's in bad taste, it's crass," she added.

Updates on Mr Mandela's health are strictly controlled via the South African presidency but this has not stopped hordes of foreign and local media flocking to his hospital, village of Qunu and his Johannesburg home.

Mr Mandela said her father's status as a global icon did not mean that his privacy and dignity should not be respected.

"Tata (father) deserves his privacy and dignity and this family deserves that," she said. "And if people say they really care about Nelson Mandela, then they should respect that, then they should respect that there's a part of him that has to be respected.

"It doesn't mean that everything of his has to be out there in the public.

I don't think so, I don't agree with that."