UK & World News

  • 14 December 2013, 17:39

Mandela Funeral: Tutu 'Heartbroken At Snub'

Desmond Tutu is said to be "heartbroken" after he was apparently left off the guest list for the funeral of his close friend Nelson Mandela.

The 82-year-old retired archbishop said he received "no indication" he had been invited to the burial service.

He 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.

"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 gatecrash what was billed as a private family funeral," he said.

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."

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

Don Mullan, who travelled from Ireland to South Africa as Mr Tutu's photographer, told Sky News the veteran campaigner is "grieving very, very much" and deserved to be at the event.

"The world needs Desmond Tutu to be here to say goodbye to his old friend," he said.

"This is about Madiba, it's about South Africa and it's about two very important peacemakers saying farewell to each other."

Mr Mullan, who said he will refuse to attend the service in protest against the apparent omission of Mr Tutu, said there was "great confusion" but also "great sadness" at his absence.

"Mr Tutu was the one who kept the flame of freedom alive when MrMandela and other campaigners were in prison or in exile," he said.

"He is the one MrMandela spent his first night of freedom with and the one he and Graca Machel asked to assist at their wedding."

Zelda la Grange, a former private secretary to Mr Mandela, said South Africa's first black president was "very fond" of the man he affectionately called "The Arch".

"Madiba really adored him," she said. "He respected him, he loved him - there was a very close relationship."

Mr Mandela will be buried in his childhood home of Qutu following South Africa's first state funeral.

Thousands of people lined the streets of Mthatha, as his body was driven towards its final resting place.

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.

Advertisement