Makaziwe Mandela
Makaziwe Mandela says the foreign media does not respect Africa (SABC/Reuters)

Makaziwe Mandela, the eldest daughter of Nelson Mandela, has accused foreign media of racism and said it did not respect the former president's privacy or dignity.

She told SABC News that the foreign media was behaving like vultures circling over carcass.

"There's a racist element with many of the foreign media where they just cross boundaries. They are standing right there in the road. You can't even enter the hospital because they are making themselves such a nuisance.

"It's truly like vultures waiting when the lion has devoured the buffalo, waiting there for the last of the carcass. That's the image we have as a family.

"They violate all boundaries. They don't want to listen. And I think at this point in time as a family, as an African, you have to be in peace, you have to have a sense of decorum. This is what is required."

Mandela said the media did not behave in the same way when Margaret Thatcher died and said the level of disrespect she has experienced over her father's illness was because they were in an African country.

"I don't know how people come here and violate everything. When Margaret Thatcher was sick in hospital I didn't see this kind of media frenzy where people crossed boundaries," she said.

"Is it because we are an African country that people feel they can't respect any laws of this country and violate everything in the book? It's bad practice and it's crass.

Death watch cameras

"Why do they want to know on a day-to-day basis? Tata deserves his privacy and dignity. If people say they really care about Nelson Mandela then they should respect him.

"The UK government was not communicating on a daily basis about Margaret Thatcher and giving the gory details about Margaret Thatcher's sickness while she was in hospital.

"When Ronald Reagan was sick his illness was not reported in that detail. Why is it expected of an African government to do that about its own former president and icon? Why should we do that?"

The foreign media came under fire over Nelson Mandela's health in 2011 when it emerged that Reuters and the Associated Press had placed deathwatch cameras outside his home.

One camera had been in position for six years.

Paul Colford, an AP spokesman, said at the time: "They are not surveillance cameras. Along with other media, the AP has preparedness around Mr Mandela's eventual passing. The AP cameras were not switched on and would only be used in the event of a major news story involving the former president.

"We had similar preparedness outside the Vatican ahead of Pope John Paul II's passing."

Nelson Mandela has been in hospital in Pretoria since 8 June, when he was admitted with breathing difficulties.