Mourners pay respect to Desmond Tutu in Cape Town cathedral

Mourners paid their respect to Archbishop Desmond Tutu as his body lay in state at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. The city is where Tutu waged his war against racial injustice.

Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Laureate and known for his principled fight against white minority rule, died on Sunday. He was 90-years-old. He passing is a huge loss for South Africa where many fondly called him ‘Tata’ (father). Since his death, church bells have been rung every day in his honour. Tributes and prayers have poured in around the world.

Tutu will lie in state at the cathedral on Thursday and Friday, ahead of a requiem mass funeral service on Saturday where President Cyril Ramaphosa was expected to deliver the main eulogy.

“I am basically just here to pay my respects,” said Randall Ortel, a medical doctor and one of the first members of the public in line to enter the church. “He is definitely one of my role models and I want to emulate what he has done in his life,” he said.

Amanda Mbikwana said she had arrived as early as 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) with her mother and nephews.

“We have known Tata’s work, he has stood up for us and we are here today in a free country to give him the honour, to celebrate his life and to support (his wife) Mama Leah and the family,” said Mbikwana, a human resources manager.


Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 in recognition of his non-violent opposition to white minority rule. A decade later, he witnessed the end of that regime and chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help unearth state-sponsored atrocities during that era .

“He was always the voice of the voiceless and always the voice of reason,” said fellow anti-apartheid activist Chris Nissen, as he waited in line outside the cathedral.

Tutu’s simple pine coffin with rope handles, adorned with a single bunch of white carnations, was carried into St. George’s, which provided a safe haven for anti-apartheid activists during the repressive white-minority rule.

(With inputs from agencies)


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