Former president Nelson Mandela. File photo: Reuters

Numerous relatives of former president Nelson Mandela visited the Pretoria hospital where he was spending his 15th day on Saturday.

Mandela's ex-wife, ANC MP Winnie Madikizela-Mandela arrived at the Medi-Clinic Heart hospital in Arcadia, east of Pretoria. She was with her daughter Zindzi Mandela-Motlhajwa.

Madiba's daughter, Makaziwe drove into the hospital in her red Range Rover.

Earlier, a group of Mandela's relatives arrived at the hospital led by Zaziwe Dlamini-Mandela's husband, American businessman David Manaway.

Zaziwe is a granddaughter of the ailing anti-apartheid icon.

At least six police officers were searching all vehicles entering the hospital. Drivers were being asked to open luggage compartments for officers to search the cars.

Across the busy Park Street, scores of journalists were camped outside the hospital.

Four cameras were filming activities at the Medi-Clinic Heart hospital's entrance.

At least six broadcast vehicles were stationed near the facility's other entrance on Celliers Street.

The catalogue of get-well-soon cards, balloons and flowers had grown rapidly on the hospital's security wall.

Some of the flower bouquets were placed in jars of water.

A message printed on an Ethiopian flag read: “ We love you our father, Madiba”.

Another message read: “Tata, you are stronger than anything. I am what I am today because of you. From Karabo Chilwane and Magret Moila in Limpopo”.

Some well-wishers had pasted several pictures including those of Mandela, flowers, heart designs and popular cartoon character Winnie the Pooh.

Earlier on Saturday, the presidency confirmed that the military ambulance that transported Mandela to hospital two weeks ago broke down due to “engine problems”.

“All care was taken to ensure that Madiba's medical condition was not compromised by the unforeseen incident,” spokesman Mac Maharaj said.

“Doctors attending to Madiba are satisfied that the former president suffered no harm during this period.”

Mandela, 94, was hospitalised in the early hours of June 8 with a recurring lung infection.

On Friday, United States-based CBS News reported that Mandela's liver and kidneys were functioning at 50 percent, and that the ailing former statesman had two procedures, one to repair a bleeding ulcer and another to insert a tube.

According to the report, Mandela had not opened his eyes in days and was unresponsive.

However, Maharaj said the presidency has been the “source for authoritative reporting on Mandela's health”.

“Our reports are based on the reports we receive from doctors. We avoid clinical details because we want to ensure no transgression into the privacy of Mandela and his family is ensured,” Maharaj said.

“The presidency needs to ensure the dignity of the former president and need to ensure the circumstances are not surrounded by undignified speculative reports.” He said Mandela remained in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

The African National Congress said on Saturday that the presidency had been consistent in keeping South Africa and the world informed of Mandela's health condition.

“The presidency has been consistent and reliable in ensuring that the nation and the world is kept informed on developments relating to our beloved statement and icon, Comrade Nelson Mandela,” spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.

“The ANC has no doubt that the reports they provide are indeed sufficient to ensure that, while respecting the privacy of the former president and his family, we are all kept up-to-date and knowledgeable about his condition within the confines of medical ethics and doctor-patient confidentiality.”

Mthembu said the ANC have no doubt that Mandela continued to receive the “very best medical care and attention”. -Sapa