PRETORIA - The body of the late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu lies in state one last time on Friday before his remains are interred.
On Friday morning, mourners gathered on the streets of Cape Town’s St George’s Cathedral to pay their last respects.
His body arrived in a grey hearse and his body was carried into his beloved church in a simple pine coffin by members of the clergy.
Tutu died peacefully at a care centre on Sunday, just three months after his 90th birthday, prompting tributes to pour in from around the world.
As organisers tie down preparations ahead of his final send-off tomorrow at the St George’s Cathedral, tributes have continued to pour in from local and world leaders, family friends and ordinary folk who were inspired by the influential religious leader.
Despite limited numbers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was plenty of pomp and ceremony at the event, with music from the South African Youth Choir and guitarist Jonathan Butler, among others.
Cape Town's famous Table Mountain and the City Hall building are also being lit up in purple at night all week.
Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis told AFP the colour also had darker historical relevance because during the years of white-minority rule in the 1980s police often sprayed pro-democracy protesters with water cannon and purple dye to make them easier to identify and arrest.
Mourners have been urged to donate to Tutu's foundations instead of sending flowers.
"The Tutu family would once again like to express its profound gratitude to all across the world who have sent condolences this week – and to the state for its magnificent support. This deluge of love serves to compensate, to some extent, for Covid regulations restricting the size of gatherings and the nature of the send-off our beloved Arch so richly deserves," the statement read.
The Archbishop will be cremated privately, and his ashes interred in the cathedral.