World icon Nelson Mandela

Australian minister apologises for Mandela gaffe

  • AFP, Sydney
  • |
  • Updated: Jun 27, 2013 01:09 IST

File photo: South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela revisits his prison cell on Robben Island, where he spent eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison in 1994. Getty images/Jurgen Schadeberg


Australia's resources minister Gary Gray apologised on Thursday after mistakenly telling a business dinner that ailing South African democracy icon Nelson Mandela had died.

Gray conveyed the information to the minerals council of Australia's official dinner at Parliament House in Canberra, which he attended in place of Julia Gillard who was in the throes of a leadership crisis Wednesday night.

"I apologise unreservedly and am deeply sorry to have relayed what I thought was reliable advice," Gray said in statement, adding that he had also conveyed his apology to South Africa's high commissioner, the Australian parliament and the minerals council.

Mandela, 94, is on life support in a Pretoria hospital, where he has been for almost three weeks with lung troubles stemming from his 27 years locked up on the notorious Robben Island and in other apartheid prisons.

 

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