Fake Madiba photo: Twitter account closed

The State Security Department on Thursday confirmed the picture was a fake.

The page that appears when following the link to @nQOW_bee's account. The user appears to be the first to have posted a doctored image of Nelson Mandela, claiming it was of his body lying in state, 12 December 2013. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The Twitter account of a user who appears to have been the first to publish a photograph purporting to be of Nelson Mandela lying in state is no longer accessible.

The former president's body has been at the Union Buildings in Pretoria where thousands of South Africans have travelled to pay their last respects.

No cameras or cellphones are allowed near the coffin.

On Thursday morning, a picture of Madiba with his eyes closed made waves on the social networking site. The user claimed it was his corpse.

The State Security Department on Thursday confirmed the picture was a fake.

Eyewitness News reporters who saw the body said the photo didn't match up.

Government spokesperson Phumla Williams says the image was taken in 1991 by a French agency which posted it online.

"A South African woman downloaded it from there and doctored it," she says.

"Government finds it extremely distasteful that a member of the public would engage in such behaviour and manipulate a photograph of president Mandela at this time."

Williams appealed to the public to behave with dignity and respect.

Ai this chick! (/_) RT @Ventriled: Tata's pic=====>> @nQOW_bee :(

@BMFUPI @nQOW_bee that's sick and disrespectful!!!!

Everyone who has that pic on their TL should delete it immediately RT @TrendsSthAfrica: I ♥ Nqobi, @nqow_bee is now trending in South Africa

It appears @nQOW_bee was the first person to tweet the image.

Her Twitter handle started trending in Johannesburg with the picture being retweeted by many users.

Many others were outraged by her behaviour.