The body of late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu leaves St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town after the funeral. Tutu’s body will be aquamated. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)
The body of late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu leaves St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town after the funeral. Tutu’s body will be aquamated. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Tutu’s aquamation: only family to attend

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published Jan 1, 2022

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Cape Town - Shortly after the funeral of late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu wrapped up at St George's Cathedral in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, the acting chairperson of the Desmond Tutu Intellectual Property Trust, confirmed that the late icon’s aquamation would be conducted at a private ceremony attended only by his family.

The 90-year-old anti-apartheid activist – who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work against apartheid and chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – will be acquamated in accordance with his eco-friendly beliefs.

Reverend Michael Weeder explained that aquamation is a more eco-friendly cremation.

The process involves water and is also referred to as flameless cremation, water cremation and bio-cremation.

The body is placed in a stainless steel vessel and then heat, pressure and water with a high alkaline level are used to reduce the body to its basic elements.

Meanwhile, in addition to Tutu’s family and his widow Leah Nomalizo Tutu, mourners and guests who attended the funeral included President Cyril Ramaphosa and former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, who walked in the rain into the cathedral with their wives and former first ladies Zanele Mbeki and Gugu Mtshali.

Mama Leah Tutu is comforted by Nontombi Naomi Tutu during The Arch’s funeral service. Picture: Jaco Marais/Netwerk24/South African Pool

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

Former South African first lady Graca Machel, chief of the South African National Defence Force General Rudzani Maphwanya, UDM leader General Bantu Holomisa, and Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis were also present.

In paying tribute to her father, Nontombi Naomi Tutu expressed gratitude for the messages of condolences that the Tutu family received following her father's passing.

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Political Bureau

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