She said he uses facial expressions to communicate "because of all the tubes that are in his mouth to clear [fluid from] the lungs" but dismissed rumors that he was on life support.
"He can't actually articulate anything... He communicates with the face, you see. But the doctors have told us they hope to recover his voice," Ms Madikizela-Mandel said.
"I have heard this nonsense that he is on life support - he is not.
"It is difficult for him. He remains very sensitive to any germs, so he has to be kept literally sterile. The bedroom there is like an ICU [intensive care unit] ward."
In September Mr Mandela returned home after nearly three months in hospital with a recurring lung infection and he has been receiving treatment at his home in Johannesburg, which has been specially adapted for his care.
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