Resources Minister Gary Gray acknowledged he wrongly told guests attending a Minerals Council of Australia dinner at Parliament House on Wednesday that the anti-apartheid leader was dead.
"I apologize unreservedly and am deeply sorry to have relayed what I thought was reliable advice," Gray said in a statement.
Mandela is in critical condition at a hospital. The 94-year-old former president was admitted to the Pretoria hospital on June 8 to be treated for what the government said was a recurring lung infection.
Mandela was jailed for 27 years under white racist rule. He was freed in 1990 and became South Africa's first black president in 1994.
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