Doctors treating Nelson Mandela say he is in a "permanent vegetative state" and his life support machine should be switched off.
The doctors provided the advice in a legal filing related to a Mandela family dispute over the reburying the remains of three of Mr Mandela's children.
They said Mr Mandela, 94, was breathing only with the help of mechanical support.
The former president remains "critical but stable" in a hospital in Pretoria. He has been there for nearly four weeks for treatment for a lung infection.
President Jacob Zuma said in Mr Mandela is in "a critical but stable condition". And Graca Machel, Mr Mandela's wife, said although he may sometimes be uncomfortable, or in pain, he is fine.