The body of Archbishop Desmond Tutu was carried Thursday into a historic cathedral where he once railed against the white rule to allow South Africans to bid farewell to the anti-apartheid icon.
Tutu, a Nobel Peace prize winner widely revered across racial and cultural divides in South Africa for his moral rectitude and principled fight against white-minority rule, died on Sunday aged 90.
A small bouquet of carnations was placed on top of a simple pine coffin carried by six Anglican priests.
Tutu’s simple pine coffin with rope handles, adorned with a single bunch of white carnations, was carried into St. George’s, Cathedral in Cape Town which provided a safe haven for anti-apartheid activists during the repressive white-minority rule.
Tutu’s successor, Thabo Makgoba, said a prayer after priests burnt incense over the coffin before it was lifted from the hearse.
Tutu’s widow Leah walked slowly behind as the coffin entered the cathedral in the city center.
The tireless spiritual and political leader who died peacefully at 90 on Boxing Day, will be cremated and his ashes buried on New Year’s Day.
Tutu will lie in state at the Anglican Church’s St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town throughout Thursday and Friday to allow as many people as possible to say their final goodbyes to the much-loved clergy and rights advocate.
Tutu’s lying in state had been extended to two days “for fear there might be a stampede,” Reverend Gilmore Fry told AFP.
Desmond 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 unearth the atrocities committed under it.
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