CAPE TOWN, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- The South African government confirmed on Saturday that it did not send any invitation to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to attend former president Nelson Mandela's funeral, as it did not send any invitation to anybody.
"We would like to indicate that government issued no invitation to any guest. Neither the Presidency nor the Department of International Relations and Cooperation issued invitations to any guests," Minister Collins Chabane said in the update about preparations for Mandela's funeral in Qunu, Eastern Cape on Sunday.
Tutu said earlier in the day he cancelled his flight to the Eastern Cape to attend Mandela's funeral after he received no indication that his name was on the guest 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 (Mandela) to gatecrash what was billed as a private family funeral," Tutu said in a statement.
"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's absence from the funeral has raised speculations that he was snubbed out of the event for being an outspoken critic of the government.
He was also left out of the official memorial service honoring Mandela at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on Tuesday, and was called at the last minute to bless the service, according to the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
But Chabane said Tutu was accredited both for FNB Stadium and Qunu in the first round of accreditation, like anyone wishing to pay their respects on the final leg of the mourning.
Chabane said that on Dec. 9, the government received a list from church leaders which included the name of Archbishop Tutu.
"Looking at the media reports it seems the accreditation is confused with the opportunity to participate in the program," Chabane said.
"In this regard there are two processes: the speakers on the program was a product of discussions between the family and government because this is a State Funeral."
The part of the program (for the State Funeral) was finalized between the church leaders and the family. The government was then provided with names to be included in the program which government was required to print, said Chabane.
"Government did not comment on the program, as we respected the wishes of the family.
Chabane said the government has since been assured by the church leaders that they will clarify this position with the Archbishop.
"We have left the matter in their hands," he said.
"Everyone who has been accredited is welcome to attend tomorrow' s State Funeral. As long as people's names are on the accreditation list, they will be accommodated."