Nelson Mandela’s family to give ‘love and support he needs’ at home

Mandela returns home, but health remains frail 1:59

The granddaughter of former South African President Nelson Mandela said early Monday that his family was "happy" he was home because it would make it easier for them to give him the "love and support" he needs.

Ndaleka Mandela told NBC News that work commitments and heavy traffic in Johannesburg –- the country's largest city –- had made it difficult for them to visit the anti-apartheid icon in the hospital around 40 miles away in Pretoria.

But he was now "comfortable" at home and receiving the best medical care, she said; she also confirmed an earlier statement from the South African government that his condition remained "critical."

"Madiba's condition remains critical and is at times unstable," the presidency said in a statement on its website, referring to Mandela by his clan name.

"Nevertheless, his team of doctors are convinced that he will receive the same level of intensive care at his ... home that he received in Pretoria."

Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela called his return "a day of celebration for the family," Reuters reported Sunday. 

He added that his grandfather's discharge disproved claims that Mandela was in a "vegetative" state "waiting for his (life) support machines to be switched off, in effect declaring him dead." 

Mandela, 95, was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria on June 8 with a recurring lung infection attributed to the manual labor he was forced to perform while he was a political prisoner in South Africa for nearly three decades.

Mandela's home was reconditioned to allow him to receive intensive care, and he would be treated by the same team as in the hospital in Pretoria, according to the government.

Sources told NBC News that doctors -- who tested a critical care unit set up in Mandela's home in Johannesburg -- decided on Saturday that Mandela could return home given his relatively stable condition. 

"If there are health conditions that warrant another admission to hospital in future, this will be done," the presidency's statement said. 

"Despite the difficulties imposed by his various illnesses, he, as always, displays immense grace and fortitude," it added.

Reuters contributed to this report.