He had spent more time in the rural village of Qunu in Eastern Cape province, where he grew up. He was visited there in August by Hillary Clinton, who was U.S. secretary of state at the time.
Doctors said in December that he should remain at his home in the Johannesburg neighborhood of Houghton for the time being to be close to medical facilities that can provide the care he needs.
During Mandela's previous hospitalizations, the South African government had criticized some media outlets for what it described as rumor-mongering and a failure to respect the privacy of the former leader and his family. The media, in turn, expressed concern about an alleged lack of transparency and occasionally conflicting reports from officials.
Maharaj, the presidential spokesman, told eNCA on Thursday that authorities were mindful of public interest in Mandela's health, but would allow the medical team to focus on treating the former president.
"Our updates will be dependent always on what the doctors tell us and we are not pressurizing them to give us updates every few hours," he said. "We think that they should attend to their work. We are confident that they know that if there is an upturn for the good, or for the bad, they will always keep us informed."