Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela in hospital Reuters

The South African media have accused two international news agencies of "spying" on Nelson Mandela after cameras were found filming the former head of state and Nobel Prize winner's house.

According to reports, cameras belonging to the Associated Press and Reuters had been installed at the house of Nokwanele Balizulu, who lives opposite Mr Mandela's residence in the his home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

When rumours of the cameras surfaced, the foreign news agencies faced accusations that they had installed the cameras to "spy" on the former president.

The South African Times quoted Mrs Balizulu, a local chieftainess, as confirming that she had given permission for CCTV cameras to be installed at her house.

"I agreed to having those cameras there, but I'm not going to say anything else," she allegedly said.

A statement by AP's spokesperson, Paul Colford, defends the move and refutes accusations that the cameras had been used to spy on the anti-apartheid icon.

"The cameras were positioned some time ago, with the knowledge of authorities. The cameras are not turned on. They are not spying on Mr Mandela's home," Mr Colford said.

"They are part of the preparedness that AP and other large news organisations customarily make in the event of a major news story involving a former world leader."

When International Business Times UK contacted Reuters, Jo Crosby, the news agency's spokesperson, confirmed they did have a camera but added that it had now been removed.

The BBC reported police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo confirmed that two media groups were being investigated for "constantly filming the ex-president's residence".

When approached, the Nelson Mandela Foundation refused to comment on the subject.

Mr Mandela spent 27 years in jail for his anti-apartheid activities. Following his release in 1990, he led the African National Congress party to a landslide victory in 1994, becoming South Africa's first black president after more than three centuries of white rule.

The elder statesman is now 93 years old and has increasingly appeared frail, prompting concerns for his health and vmedia organisations have been preparing for his future death for bsoem time.