UK & World News

  • 13 December 2013, 16:48

Nelson Mandela Twitter Photo Hoax Backlash

The South African government has condemned the posting on Twitter of a hoax photograph appearing to show the body of Nelson Mandela.

The image, in which the anti-apartheid icon is apparently lying in his coffin, has provoked an angry backlash on social media networks.

It is believed to be a digitally manipulated picture taken of Mr Mandelain 1991.

Government spokeswoman Phumla Williams said: "We would urge people to not to view this content and delete it."

She said the photograph was posted online by a South African woman and has since been removed.

Since Wednesday, thousands of South Africans have filed past the glass-topped casket as the nation's first black president lies in state in Pretoria.

The public have been banned from taking photographs, and the government says no official images will be released of MrMandela's body in accordance with the wishes of his family.

The posting of the hoax photo by the Twitter name INyqobi prompted some users to declare it disgusting, while others wondered how it could have been taken amid the high security surrounding the former statesman's body.

"Wow, how can you take pictures of a corpse, you are sick!" one person tweeted.

A spokesman for Mr Mandela's family, Lieutenant General Themba Mathamzima, said his relatives were very concerned about the picture.

"We don't know who did this but we want the government to investigate," he said.

The funeral cortege carrying Mr Mandela's coffin passed through the streets of Pretoria early on Friday morning as it was transported to the capital's Union Buildings to lie in state for a third and final day.

Hundreds began queuing in the early hours of the morning to get the chance to view the body and pay their final respects.

On Saturday a military ceremony will be held at the Waterkloof airbase in the city from where his body will be flown to his ancestral home of Qunu in the Eastern Cape ahead of the State Funeral on Sunday.

:: Watch Sky News' live coverage of Nelson Mandela's funeral on Sunday, December 15 - Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.