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Nelson Mandela 'corpse' photo exposed as a fake


An image falsely claiming to show Nelson Mandela's corpse.

A photo purporting to show the dead body of Nelson Mandela has been exposed as a fake. The picture, posted anonymously on social networks Thursday, shows a close-up view of the former South African president's face with his eyes closed.

But the photo is not new, and in fact shows Mandela very much alive. It was taken 22 years ago when Mandela momentarily closed his eyes at an African National Congress meeting in Durban. It had been cropped and crudely modified with a greenish hue in the version circulated on Thursday. Mandela's body went on display Wednesday, with thousands of people filing past his coffin to pay their respects. 

Photographer Trevor Samson took the original picture for Agence France-Presse. The news agency tweeted the two shots side-by-side Thursday, explaining "Photo of 'dead' Mandela is actually #AFP image of him closing his eyes at ANC conference in Durban in July 1991."

Trevor Samson / AFP - Getty Images, file

Nelson Mandela attends an African National Congress meeting in Durban on July 2, 1991.

A spokeswoman for the South African government had earlier condemned the 'corpse' photo. "It is wrong, wrong, wrong. It is disrespect for the man and for the family," Phumla Williams said, according to a report on iol.co.za.

"How can the family heal if this photo is being circulated, because it will be around for years to come," she asked.



Ben Curtis / AP

Close to 100 heads of state traveled to South Africa to attend events commemorating the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela.

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