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University apologises after Mandela obituary appears on website

Nelson Mandela statue

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), one of South Africa’s foremost institutions of higher learning, has apologized for an obituary to former president Nelson Mandela that people managed to find on its website.

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According to the university the obituary, prepared in anticipation of the ailing statesman’s death, was never issued nor published by the university but was made searchable due to a “technical error” on the site.

The obituary was titled Hamba kahle Tata Mandela and dated 31 July 2013. In its statement, the university apologizes to “family members, friends, fellow South Africans and global citizens for an obituary related to the death of former president Nelson Mandela”

It adds that it has taken “all the necessary steps to get to the root of the technical error” and that the departments responsible will be held accountable.

There was evidence that some members of the Twitter community, including prominent radio personality Eusebius McKaiser, didn’t really buy this excuse:

This is not the first time someone has accidentally released something in anticipation of Mandela’s death.

Mandela is spending a thirteenth day in a Pretoria hospital where he is being treated for a recurring lung infection. During Mandela’s last hospital visit in April, an advert for a televised obituary was aired on DStv, South Africa’s largest pay-TV service. This sparked outrage, particularly from the ruling African National Congress.

The full Wits statement follows below:

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg extends its sincerest apologies to the family members, friends, fellow South Africans and global citizens for an obituary related to the death of former president Nelson Mandela that was not published or issued by the University.

The University had prepared a statement which was hidden on its systems. However, a technical error made this available via the search function on Google. At no stage did the University issue this statement or publish it on its website.

The University regrets the mishap and will take all the necessary steps to get to the root of the technical error and to ensure that the responsible departments are held accountable for this incident.

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