Former US President George H.W. Bush prematurely announced Nelson Mandela’s death on Sunday morning.
The mix-up happened when George H.W. Bush’s spokesman Jim McGrath misread a Washington Post news flash.
“The 41 stmnt sent this morning was the result of my mis-reading the header on the WaPo news flash. Stupid mistake by me. Apologies to all,” Jim McGrath tweeted Sunday morning.
The original statement read: “Barbara and I mourn the passing of one of the greatest believers in freedom we have had the privilege to know. As President, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers following 26 years of wrongful imprisonment – setting a powerful example of redemption and grace for us all. He was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country. Barbara and I had great respect for President Mandela, and send our condolences to his family and countrymen.”
The South African presidency corrected the statement, saying former President Nelson Mandela is still alive.
“It is clearly incorrect. We see it as an error on his side” and aren’t going to “make a big deal about it” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said.
Nelson Mandela was discharged from the hospital Sunday after initially being admitted in June for a lung infection. He is still in critical condition.
South Africa’s first black president was taken by ambulance to his home in Johannesburg which has been set up to provide intensive care.
In a statement, the South African government said: “Madiba’s condition remains critical and is at times unstable.
“Nevertheless, his team of doctors are convinced that he will receive the same level of intensive care at his Houghton home that he received in Pretoria.”
George H.W. Bush, 89, is also dealing with health problems of his own.
He was unable to attend the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial last Wednesday because his old age has confined him to a wheelchair.
Jim McGrath told the LA Times that he is “unable to participate in events like this anymore due to his mobility situation”.