“With funerals they [government] don’t send invites [but] they do have a list of accredited people,” spokeswoman Phumla Williams said.
“If he [Tutu] had called, we would have given him accreditation… they would never have turned Tutu away… there were no malicious shenanigans.”
She said Tutu was on a list of eminent people to be accredited for the funeral.
All those who were attending had called government asking if they could attend, or had their embassy or representatives call, Williams said.
Tutu did not call.
Tutu on Saturday said 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, or that he was accredited.
“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 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 “cancelled his arrangements to fly to East London on Friday to attend the funeral of Tata Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela after receiving no indication that his name was on a guest or accreditation list,” his office said in the statement.
Tutu has presided over the funerals of other struggle heroes such as Steve Biko, Chris Hani and Walter Sisulu.
Tutu’s daughter and the CEO of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Mpho Tutu, reportedly said her father would not be going to Qunu for Sunday’s state funeral because he was not an accredited clergy person.
According to the Saturday Star, there was speculation that Tutu had been snubbed because of his outspoken criticism of the current government.
Tutu was also left off the official programme for the Mandela memorial held at FNB Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday.
However, at the last minute he was asked to give a blessing at the end of the memorial, after the crowd had become disruptive and booed President Jacob Zuma.
The archbishop reprimanded the crowd for its behaviour.
“I want to show the world we can come out here and celebrate the life of an icon,” a visibly angry Tutu shouted at the crowd.
“You must show the world that we are disciplined. I want to hear a pin drop.”
As he spoke, some people in the crowd started talking and Tutu pointed at them and shouted.
“We promise God that we are going to follow the example of Nelson Mandela,” he said.
Mandela died at his Houghton home in Johannesburg last Thursday, aged 95.