The South African government says Nelson Mandela's health has deteriorated and the former president and famed anti-apartheid figure now is in critical condition.

Nelson Mandela (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, visited the 94-year-old Mandela at a hospital Sunday night, and Zuma's office says he was informed by the medical team that Mandela's condition had become critical in the past 24 hours.

Zuma said in a statement that doctors are "doing everything possible to get his condition to improve" and are making certain that he's in good hands.

Zuma also met Graca Machel, Mandela's wife, at the hospital in Pretoria and discussed the former leader's condition, according to the statement.

Mandela was jailed for 27 years under white racist rule and released in 1990. He then played a leading role in steering the divided country from the apartheid era to democracy, becoming South Africa's first black president in all-race elections in 1994. He was hospitalized on June 8 for what the government said was a recurring lung infection.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)