Former President Nelson Mandela remains in "stable but critical" condition, but "continues to respond to treatment," the South African government said in its first update on his health since September.

"The health of the former president remains much the same," according to a statement issued after President Jacob Zuma visited the anti-apartheid icon at his home Monday.

The 95-year-old is receiving intensive care at home after being discharged from hospital on Sept. 1 after a nearly three-month stay there for a lung infection.

The government has largely refused to give details about Mandela's condition, citing the need for privacy, but said "he continues to recover."

Mandela's oldest grandson, Mandla Mandela, who visited the former statesman Sunday, said he found him in a "good state."

"He is still progressing steadily but very much under a critical condition," Mandla told reporters.

Mandela's former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, this week told a local newspaper that he remains "quite ill" and is unable to speak because of tubes being used to clear his lungs of liquid.

He is using facial expressions to communicate, Madikizela-Mandela added.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner is under the care of 22 doctors. While his pneumonia has cleared, his lungs remain sensitive, she said, adding that "he remains quite ill, but thank God the doctors were able to pull him through from that (last) infection."