WASHINGTON : A spokesman for former US president George H.W. Bush apologized on Sunday after erroneously issuing a statement of condolence stating that South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela had died. Bush spokesman Jim McGrath later explained that he circulated a prepared statement expressing Bush's sorrow at the "death" of the former South African president after misreading a Washington Post news alert about Mandela's discharge from hospital.

 Mandela, 95, had earlier returned to his Johannesburg home on Sunday after spending three months in hospital for a respiratory illness.