Archbishop Desmond Tutu has decided to attend the funeral of former South African president Nelson Mandela, said his spokesman.

The retired archbishop, a long-time friend of Mandela's, had been at the centre of a dispute over whether or not he had been invited to the service in Qunu.

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"Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will be travelling to Qunu early tomorrow to attend Tata's funeral," the Tutu family's spokesman, Roger Friedman, said in a statement.

Earlier on Saturday, Tutu had said he would not go to the funeral on Sunday because the government had not made him feel welcome and he did not want to "gatecrash" the funeral of his ally and friend.

The 82-year-old is, like Mandela, the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his groundbreaking work in the ultimately successful struggle against apartheid.

But more recently he has been a strong critic of President Jacob Zuma's government, and seemed annoyed about the way funeral arrangements had been handled.

"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."

Source: Agencies