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‘Tutu definitely accredited for funeral’

Government says Desmond Tutu’s claim he was never invited is true, but the same applies to all attendees.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Government says no invitations were issued to any guests who will attend Nelson Mandela's funeral in Qunu tomorrow morning.

Speaking in Qunu on Saturday, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane explained this is because guests were accredited for the earlier events, including the national memorial service, and that accreditation still stands.

Earlier today, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu released a statement saying he'd cancelled his travel arrangements to the Eastern Cape as he did not want to gatecrash a private event that he was not invited to.

But Chabane says Tutu was definitely on the list submitted by religious leaders.

"On that list, Archbishop Tutu's name was number six. He was accredited for the FNB [Stadium] and Qunu in the first round of accreditation."

He added, "We would like to reiterate that anyone wanting to attend the funeral service is welcome to do so."

Mandela had a close friendship with fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tutu, forged in the struggle against apartheid.

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

Tutu's absence from the global icon's final farewell raised questions about the outspoken clergyman's strained relationship with the current South African government and ruling ANC party.

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

"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.

Tutu leads a service for Mandela at the St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, 6 December 2013. Picture: SAPA.

The controversy emerged as Mandela's body arrived at his ancestral home of Qunu ahead of the state funeral, which will be attended by family members, national leaders and foreign guests including Britain's Prince Charles and U.S. civil rights activist Reverend Jessie Jackson.

At the memorial ceremony for Mandela on Tuesday in Johannesburg, Tutu was not initially on the speaker's list but he was eventually invited to the podium and tried to calm an unruly crowd that had booed President Jacob Zuma.

Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, next to Tutu at the memorial on 10 December 2013. Picture: @KetyDC via twitter.

In his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela warmly described Tutu as "a man who had inspired an entire nation with his words and his courage, who had revived the people's hope during the darkest of times."

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, Tutu, 82, has become a fierce critic of the ruling Africa National Congress (ANC), accusing it of losing its way and straying from the ideal of a "Rainbow Nation" of shared prosperity that he and Mandela had envisaged.