Tutu: No indication I could attend Madiba funeral

The cleric says he had no invitation or indication that he could attend Madiba’s funeral.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu leads a service for the late Nelson Mandela at the St George's Cathedral  in Cape Town, 6 December 2013. Picture: SAPA.

JOHANNESBURG - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Saturday confirmed he cancelled his arrangements to fly to East London on Friday to attend Nelson Mandela's state funeral "after receiving no indication that his name was on a guest or accreditation list," according to a statement on Saturday.

Madiba will be buried in his hometown of Qunu in the Eastern Cape on Sunday. He passed away last Thursday at the age of 95.

His body is currently en route from Mthatha to the small village, with Eastern Cape residents lining the route.

Hundreds of people line the street in Mthatha to welcome the body of Nelson Mandela with singing and celebration of an icon. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN.

An earlier announcement said Tutu he would not be attending the private service as he is not an official member of the clergy.

But it has since emerged that Tutu had no confirmation that he was invited to the ceremony.

Tutu confirmed that he cancelled his plans to fly to East London yesterday to attend the funeral of the global icon after receiving no indication that his name was on the guest or accreditation list.

"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 says.

"Had I or my office been informed that I would be welcome, there is no way on earth that I would have missed it."

Mandela holds the Jules Rimet World Cup beside Tutu at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich. Picture: AFP

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni, meanwhile, says Tutu's absence doesn't reflect well on the brand of the country.

He says this is a time when South Africans have to show unity.

"One would have expected to attend, but also to play a prominent role on an occasion like this."

But the Presidency says Tutu had indeed been invited to the private ceremony, saying it's surprised Tutu will not be attending the proceedings as he was on the invitation list.

The International Relations and Cooperation Department's Clayson Monyela also says he knows for a fact that the Archbishop is on the guest list.

Tutu was also not included in the programme during Madiba's memorial service at FNB Stadium on Tuesday.

But, at the last minute, he was asked to give a blessing at the end of the memorial after the crowd had become disruptive and booed President Jacob Zuma.