On Saturday a host of international news media – from CNN to the BBC and Sky – announced that Nelson Mandela had left hospital and gone home.
For a while there was a stunned silence from the South African Presidency, then they declared the story to be untrue.
Mandela was, where he had been since the 8th of June, in Pretoria’s MediClinic Heart Hospital.
All a big mistake – but whose?
South African media, either sensibly, or terrified of getting on the wrong side of the Presidency, had kept quiet.
So who was responsible for the mistake?
The information came from the dysfunctional Mandela family.
Sky News reported the source as being his daughter.
CNN said the information came from two sources close to the family.
It was the Mandela family itself which briefed the press.
South Africa’s Sunday Times is reporting as much.
The large extended family has been bickering over the spoils of Nelson Mandela’s legacy for months, if not years.
Children’s bodies were dug up, court cases opened. And this is before the grand old man dies.
The international media, desperate for a scoop, have all cultivated the Mandela family for years. Reveling in the attention, they now spread mis-information as a means of guaranteeing their place in the limelight.
It is all an unholy mess.