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Archbishop Desmond Tutu funeral: Proceedings under way, dignitaries including King of Lesotho Letsie III in attendance

PresIdent Cyril Ramaphosa comforts the widow Mama Leah Tutu, the widow of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Picture: GCIS

PresIdent Cyril Ramaphosa comforts the widow Mama Leah Tutu, the widow of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Picture: GCIS

Published Jan 1, 2022


Tarryn-Leigh Solomons

Cape Town – Dignitaries attending the funeral of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at the St George's Cathedral in Cape Town began streaming in on Saturday morning.

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Among Tutu’s family and widow Leah Nomalizo Tutu, mourners and guests in attendance included President Cyril Ramaphosa and former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe who walked in the rainy weather and into the Cathedral with their wives and former first lady Zanele Mbeki and Gugu Mtshali.

King of Lesotho Letsie III is also in attendance, along with business mogul Patrice Motsepe and his wife, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe and Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu funeral held at the St George’s Cathedral i n Cape Town Picture: GCIS

Chief of the South African National Defence Force General Rudzani Maphwanya, UDM leader General Bantu Holomisa and Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis are also present.

Only a maximum of 100 people will be allowed in the church due to Covid-19 regulations.

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the funeral service of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu Picture: GCIS

Public viewing of the funeral will take place on the Grand Parade.

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The eulogy will be delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is among some of the dignitaries attending the funeral of the late Archbishop Picture: GCIS

On Thursday and Friday, the public was afforded the opportunity to pay their final respects to the Arch who lies in a plain wooden casket.

The 90-year-old anti-apartheid activist made his request very clear that he desired a simple burial. He will be cremated and his ashes interred beneath the floor of St George’s.

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Over the past week since Tutu's passing on Sunday, December 26, dignitaries made their way to the family home in Milnerton to pay their respects to the Arch.

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On Thursday the Chairpersons of the Archbishop Tutu Trust and the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Dr Mamphela Ramphele and Niclas Kjellstrom-Matseke hosted an intimate event in honour of the Arch. Among the dignitaries were the former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, former South African first lady Graca Machel as well as former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Former president Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela was also in attendance.

The City of Cape Town, under the leadership of Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, honoured the former archbishop of Cape Town by lighting the City Hall and Table Mountain up in purple.

Flags have been flown at half-mast across the country and the church bells at the Cathedral were rung at midday.

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Political Bureau