- The Washington Times - Monday, September 2, 2013

Contrary to what one aide for former President George H.W. Bush put out in a statement on Sunday, the South African leader Nelson Mandela is not dead. He’s gone home from the hospital, recovering from a lengthy stay.

Mr. Bush’s spokesman Jim McGrath, however, misread a news flash on a website and thought Mr. Mandela, 95, had died — and put out a statement expressing condolences.

The original statement, The New York Post reported: “Barbara and I mourn the passing of one of the greatest believers in freedom we have had the privilege to know. As president, I watched in wonder as Nelson Mandela had the remarkable capacity to forgive his jailers following 26 years of wrongful imprisonment — setting a powerful example of redemption and grace for us all. He was a man of tremendous moral courage, who changed the course of history in his country. Barbara and I had great respect for President Mandela, and send our condolences to his family and countrymen.”

In a Twitter message, after realizing the mistake, Mr. McGrath wrote: “The 41 stmnt sent this morning was the result of my mis-reading the header on the WaPo news flash. Stupid mistake by me. Apologies to all.”

Still, Mr. McGrath’s statement of Mr. Mandela’s death unleashed a fury of media reports. The South African presidency was forced to issue a denial, confirming that Mr. Mandela was still alive.

“It is clearly incorrect,” South African presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said, of the condolences issued on behalf of Mr. Bush. “We see it as an error on [Bush’s] side.”

BNO News, a news wire service based in the Netherlands, reported similarly, rushing out a story about “anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, who has remained in a critical condition after suffering a recurrence of a lung infection, is alive.”

Mr. Mandela spent three months in the hospital battling a lung infection. He went home Monday, various media reported.