UK & World News

  • 15 December 2013, 2:20

Desmond Tutu 'Will Attend Mandela's Funeral'

Desmond Tutu will attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela after he was apparently left off the guest list, according to reports.

"Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will be traveling to Qunu early tomorrow to attend Tata's funeral," the Anglican cleric's office said in a brief statement.

"Tata", meaning father in Xhosa, is a term by which Mandela is affectionately known.

The 82-year-old retired archbishop earlier said he received "no indication" he had been invited to the burial service and was "heartbroken" at not being able to attend.

Contradicting President Jacob Zuma's claim that he was "definitely" on the guest list, Mr Tutu added: "Had I or my office been informed that I would be be welcome, there is no way on Earth that I would have missed it."

Minister in The Presidency Collins Chabanesaid:"We didn't send an invitation to Archbishop Tutu because we did not send an invitation to anyone.

"The accreditation for people who were accredited for the National Memorial Service is still valid. This matter was clarified in the first stage of accreditation," he said.

Mr Chabane added that those who had been accredited were welcome to attend the funeral. As long as their names were on the accreditation list, they would be accommodated.

Mr Tutu worked closely with the former South African president in his long struggle against apartheid and welcomed Mr Mandela into his home after his fellow campaigner's release from jail.

The apparent exclusion of the Nobel Peace Prize winner led to speculation he was being punished for vocal criticism of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.

Some 4,000 people are expected to attend the funeral of the anti-apartheidhero including family members, African leaders and several heads of state. The Prince of Wales will attend in place of the Queen and prominent US civil-rights activist Jessie Jackson is also expected to be there.

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