Was he or wasn't he? Confusion over Tutu invite to Mandela funeral

2013-12-14 14:24

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Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said he cancelled his flight to the Eastern Cape to attend former president Nelson Mandela’s funeral after he received no indication that his name was on the guest list.

“Much as I would have loved to attend the service to say a final farewell to someone I loved and treasured, it would have been disrespectful to Tata to gate-crash what was billed as a private family funeral,” Tutu said today in a statement.

“Had I or my office been informed that I would be welcome there is no way on earth that I would have missed it.”

Tutu has presided over the funerals of other struggle heroes such as Steve Biko, Chris Hani and Walter Sisulu.

But the Presidency insisted that Tutu's name was on the list.

"I have been checking and he is definitely on the list," presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj told AFP.

"The Arch is not an ordinary church person, he is a special person in our country and he is definitely on the list," said Maharaj.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu should have called if he wanted to attend former president Nelson Mandela's funeral in Qunu, government said today.

Spokeswoman Phumla Williams said: "With funerals they [government] don't send invites [but] they do have a list of accredited people," .

"If he [Tutu] had called, we would have given him accreditation... they would never have turned Tutu away... there were no malicious shenanigans."

She said Tutu was on a list of eminent people to be accredited for the funeral.

All those who were attending had called government asking if they could attend, or had their embassy or representatives call, Williams said.

Tutu did not call.

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