US Presidential contender Joe Biden has controversially claimed that he was arrested in South Africa during apartheid, while trying to see former president Nelson Mandela, The New York Times reported.
Biden reportedly made the claim several times while on the campaign trail last week. He reportedly claimed that he was arrested along with the US' UN ambassador.
"I had the great honour of meeting him (Mandela). I had the great honour of being arrested with our UN ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens Island (sic)," the Times quoted Biden as saying at an event in South Carolina last week.
But Andrew Young, who was the US ambassador to the UN from 1977 to 1979, told the Times that he was sceptical of Biden's account.
"No, I was never arrested and I don't think he was, either," Young reportedly said.
Biden faced backlash on Twitter, with many people wondering why this event did not make the news at the time.
— Palesa Morudu (@palesa_morudu) February 21, 2020
Yes I thought it very odd that the “memory” should be invoked now. Had it happened, there would surely have been a newspaper report. Not to mention that he’s unlikely to have been given permission to see Mandela then.— Pippa Green (@green_pippa) February 22, 2020
BREAKING: The @NYTimes has now caught @JoeBiden lying 3 times this month about BEING ARRESTED in South Africa while trying visit Nelson Mandela during Apartheid. This is OUTRAGEOUS. This never happened. People who were there say it never happened.https://t.co/i17ZYXeEmL— Shaun King (@shaunking) February 21, 2020
Biden's apparent geographic error also raised eyebrows.
Soweto is a suburb of Johannesburg, a thousand miles from Robben Island. Visitors were rarely allowed on the island, especially supporters of Mandela.
— Pamela Irene (@safaridreamer) February 22, 2020
I mean .... pretty sure white americans werent allowed in soweto in the 70’s..... but if he was catching a ferry to robben island from soweto then i guess anything is possible
— alex rudi (@alexrudi2)
Yes, I remember. Biden also led a 100 000-strong march to free Mandela. When confronted by the Apartheid police, he beat up all 100 policemen. He then swam to Robben Island, fighting sharks on the way. On the Island, Mandela told him to go back to USA & run for President in 2020.— Roland Williams ???? #DreamItDoIt (@Roland_Williams) February 22, 2020
The Biden campaign is under pressure to perform well as the Democratic primaries head into more racially diverse states.
Candidates will compete in the Nevada caucus on Saturday.
With Vermont senator Bernie Sanders largely seen as the party's front-runner, competition is fierce as the other candidates vie for second place. Biden has pinned his campaign on his popularity among more diverse populations, according to CNN.
Biden has the most support among black registered Democratic primary voters, NBC News reported. Support from this demographic for Sanders is catching up to Biden's numbers, according to the report.
Biden is banking on this support following a poor showing in a poll earlier in February, Business Insider reported.
- Compiled by Sarah Evans