No invite needed for Mandela's funeral
By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post
December 13, 2013, 12:13 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- No invitation is needed to attend the funeral of former President Nelson Mandela, South Africa's top envoy to Taiwan said yesterday.
According to South African tradition, no one is formally invited to funerals, South Africa's representative to Taiwan Musawenkosi Aphane told The China Post yesterday. This custom also applies to those who seek to attend simple ceremonies such as weddings or baptisms of children, he added. In accordance with the country's customs, the South African government did not issue invitations to any foreign governments for Mandela's funeral, said the representative of the Liaison Office of South Africa (LOSA) in Taipei.
The LOSA represents South African interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties.
“People show their intentions (to attend the funeral) and are accommodated accordingly,” Aphane said.
“Mandela was a great, fearless and compassionate leader whose resilience and charisma made an impact on millions of people around the world, and many of these people ... have decided, on their own accord, to attend the funeral ceremony,” LOSA said in a publicly released statement.
Aphane added that his office did not receive any unofficial or official request from the Taiwan government for permission to attend the ceremony.
But he emphasized that after the announcement of the death of Mandela last Thursday, Taiwan was amongst the first countries in the world to have sent letters of condolence to the government and people of South Africa.
The South African envoy's comments came as a clarification to a comment previously made by a Taiwanese diplomatic source earlier this week.
A diplomatic source told local media Tuesday that Taiwan had hoped to send a delegation to Mandela's funeral. However, as Taiwan no longer has official ties with the African country and attendance to the memorial service is by invitation only, it is unlikely that Taiwan will be invited to join the event, the source said.
A diplomatic source who indicated a preference to remain anonymous said yesterday that Taiwan has been keeping close contact with South African authorities in the past few days.
After consulting with related personnel, Taiwan ultimately decided not to send a delegation to join the funeral to be held in Qunu, a village in Eastern Cape province, South Africa, later this week, because the ministry did not have enough time to make preparations, the source said.
Instead, Michael Hsu (徐佩勇), Taiwan's top envoy to South Africa, was scheduled to view the remains of Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria yesterday and pay respects to the South African anti-apartheid politician on behalf of the R.O.C. government, the source said.
Meanwhile, MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said yesterday that Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) has personally visited LOSA in Taipei Tuesday to convey condolences over the death of Mandela. Aphane was present to receive Lin during his visit, Kao said.
During their meeting, Aphane also said that in accordance with South African customs, his government did not issue invitations to any foreign governments for Mandela's funeral. According to Aphane, the government would not turn away anyone who wanted to attend the service, Kao added.