Johannesburg - A Twitter picture of Nelson Mandela, purportedly showing the statesman lying in state, has been revealed as a fake.
The Department of State Security confirmed on Thursday that the photograph of Mandela’s body was a hoax.
The photo also bears a strong resemblance to an AFP photo taken of Mandela in July 1991 when he was closing his eyes at an ANC party congress in Durban.
On Thursday, @AFP tweeted: “the Photo of 'dead' Mandela is actually #AFP image of him closing his eyes at ANC conference in Durban in July 1991”
Spokeswoman Phumla Williams said the government found it “extremely” distasteful that a member of the public would manipulate a photograph of Mandela at this time.
“We appeal to members of the public to please behave with the same dignity and respect as President Mandela lies in the state for the third and final day on Friday.”
She thanked those who acted respectfully as they said farewell to Madiba, for playing their part.
The Mandela family was reportedly devastated when news of the picture broke as it was a breach of custom.
The image is a close-up, greenish-tinged picture of Mandela’s face seemingly taken from directly above.
The picture was posted by I yNqobi with the words “He is resting”.
In response, many people asked @nQOW_bee how she could post the picture and how it had been possible to take a photograph of Madiba when there was such tight security at the public viewing of his body at the Union Buildings.
She retorted that she wasn’t the one who had taken the picture, and that it was “some Indian guy”.
Earlier, Mandela family spokesman Lieutenant-General Themba Mathanzima said the family was very concerned.
“We do not know who did this, but we are going to be asking the government to investigate,” said Mathanzima.
The public had been warned not to take photos of Mandela’s body, and that the family had asked people to be sensitive to their grief.
The Star and AFP