Police Arrest Man For Growing Marijuana Outside President’s Office


King Khoisan South Africa (R) shields a marijuana plant from being confiscated by South African Police Services members during a raid of his camp at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on January 12, 2022.  Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

South African police Wednesday uprooted cannabis plants grown by indigenous activists who have camped outside President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office for more than three years, AFP reporters saw.

Their leader, wearing a traditional loincloth, clung to a shoulder-height plant as police dragged it across the presidential lawn in Pretoria before arresting him.

“Police… you have declared war,” he shouted. “We have been here peacefully. We are coming for you,” warned the man, who calls himself King Khoisan South Africa.

The Khoisan were formerly known as Bushmen or Hottentots — a name coined by Dutch settlers in the 17h century, reflecting the clicks characteristic of their languages.

During the raid, another activist yelled in Afrikaans at the police, asking them: “For plants? For plants? You are rubbish people in uniforms.”

The group’s tarpaulin tents have been a fixture on the emerald lawns of the South African president’s office since 2018 when they began a campaign for official recognition of their languages.

READ ALSOMali Travellers Stranded As West African Sanctions Bite


South African Police Services (SAPS) members confiscate marijuana plants during a raid at the camp of King Khoisan South Africa (not pictured) at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on January 12, 2022. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

One of the tents is just metres (yards) away from a giant bronze statue of Nelson Mandela, the country’s first black president.

Around two dozen police, some in riot gear, others mounted on horseback, and some with sniffer dogs raided the small group.

Police did not respond to AFP’s request for comment, but journalists heard officers on the scene saying the raid was over the cannabis planted some six months ago in the activists’ vegetable garden.

In 2018, South Africa’s top court decriminalised the private and personal use of cannabis in a landmark case that pitted law enforcement agencies against advocates of the plant, known locally as dagga.

South Africa’s Khoisan community is thought to number in the hundreds of thousands.

AFP

16 Burnt To Death In South Africa Mini-Bus Crash

South Africa flag.

 

Sixteen people were burnt to death on Tuesday when a minibus taxi and an SUV collided on a highway in South Africa’s northeastern Limpopo province, a local official said.

The SUV driver lost control after a tyre burst and collided head-on with a 22-seater Mercedes-Benz bus, provincial transport ministry spokesman Mike Maringa told AFP on Wednesday.

“The bus burst into flames and 16 occupants trapped inside were burnt alive,” he said.

The SUV driver was killed on impact, he said. Eight other people survived with injuries.

Privately-owned minibus taxis are widely used by the commuting public in South Africa.

Despite having one of the most developed highway networks on the continent, South Africa has one of the world’s worst records for road safety — a phenomenon usually blamed on poor driving.

Nearly 1,500 people were killed on the roads during the Christmas holidays, according to government.

Suspect In South African Parliament Fire Brought Back To Court

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A man suspected of starting a devastating fire that gutted South Africa’s parliament made his second appearance in court on Tuesday.

The blaze broke out in the Cape Town complex before dawn on January 2, spreading to the National Assembly, the roof of which collapsed.

Zandile Christmas Mafe, 49, was arrested around the complex the same day and made his first brief court appearance three days later.

He initially faced charges of breaking into parliament, arson and intention to steal property, including laptops, crockery and documents.

Since his arrest, debate has raged in South Africa over whether Mafe, described in the local media as homeless, was responsible for setting the building on fire.

Ahead of the hearing on Tuesday, a group of around 30 people, picketed outside the Cape Town magistrate court demanding Mafe be freed, brandishing handwritten signs such as “Free Mafe”, “He is innocent” and “He is not guilty”.

One homeless person recounted the events of the night the fire started. He was sleeping on a street near the parliament complex and heard a sound like a car collision. He later suspected that was the break-in before the fire started.

READ ALSO: 6.6-Magnitude Quake Hits Cyprus

A preliminary report by the city of Cape Town last week said the fire detection system appeared “faulty”, and that “sprinklers did not activate” and that they were last serviced in 2017, missing a February 2020 scheduled service.

It took scores of fire fighters more than two days to extinguish the blaze which tore through the wood-panelled assembly chamber where parliamentary debates are held.

No casualties were reported in the fire, but the extensive damage has shaken the country and forced the authorities to move the annual state-of-the-nation address to be delivered next month by President Cyril Ramaphosa to an alternative venue in Cape Town.

‘Defining Moment’: South Africa Report On Zuma-Era Graft Handed Over

In this file photo taken on July 04, 2021 Former South African president Jacob Zuma addresses the media in his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. Emmanuel Croset / AFP

 

South African investigators on Tuesday handed over the first instalment of a long-awaited report into corruption at the heart of the state under former president Jacob Zuma.

The fruit of four years’ work, the report was handed to Zuma’s successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has vowed to root out graft and financial sleaze.

“This is what I would call a defining moment in our country’s effort to definitively end the era of state capture and to restore the integrity… of our institutions and more importantly our government,” Ramaphosa said.

The findings, he hoped, would “mark a decisive break with the corrupt practices that our country has experienced in the past.”

Ramaphosa said he would brief parliament by the end of June on his response to the report, drawn up by a top-level commission that does not itself have powers of prosecution.

Zuma, 79, became post-apartheid South Africa’s fourth president in May 2009, succeeding Thabo Mbeki.

But his presidency became stained by a reputation for corruption, with cronies influencing government appointments, contracts, and state businesses.

READ ALSO: South Africa Parliament Fire Under Control, Suspect Charged

Billions Looted 

The web-like process, known in South Africa as “state capture,” led to losses that at the time were equivalent to nearly seven billion dollars, according to a past estimate by Pravin Gordhan, a former finance minister given responsibility for state companies.

As the outcry mounted, Zuma was pressed into establishing an investigative commission under Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, before he was forced out of office in February 2018 by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

“It’s been a gruelling four years,” Zondo said on Tuesday as he physically handed the weighty volume to Ramaphosa at a ceremony in Pretoria.

The second volume will be handed to Ramaphosa at the end of January, and the third and final tome at the end of February, according to the presidency.

The first instalment deals with corruption at South African Airways, the New Age newspaper, the country’s tax collector, and the issue of public procurement, Zondo said.

Over 34 months, his commission heard accounts of rampant misappropriation of funds from some of the 270 witnesses, who included business people, civil servants, and intelligence officers.

Much of the evidence to the commission related to a wealthy Indian immigrant family headed by three brothers — Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh Gupta — who are accused of having wielded undue influence over Zuma.

Bags of cash claim 

The brothers are at the centre of claims they paid bribes to influence ministerial appointments and plunder state bodies.

They fled South Africa shortly after the commission started its work, and their whereabouts are unknown.

Paul Holden, an investigator who runs an NGO alongside a former ANC MP, told Zondo the estimated cost of the Guptas’ illicit activities could have been as much as 50 billion rands ($3.12 billion, 2.76 billion euros).

One witness described bags bulging with cash being delivered to ANC grandees during secret meetings in upmarket hotels in exchange for lucrative contracts for one private company.

Several witnesses detailed an audit for a major asbestos roof removal project in central Free State province. The project was never completed, yet $10 million went missing.

This led to the indictment and suspension of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, the provincial premier at the time.

Zuma snub

Zuma repeatedly refused to testify to the commission and in July was jailed for contempt of court.

Despite the corrupt reputation of his presidency, Zuma remains popular among many grassroots ANC members.

His imprisonment sparked violent protests that devolved into rioting and looting in his home region, KwaZulu-Natal, and spread to the financial hub Johannesburg.

In a separate case, Zuma is facing 16 charges of fraud, graft, and racketeering relating to a 1999 purchase of military equipment from five European arms companies when he was deputy president.

The report’s handover comes as the political system reels from the fire which destroyed swathes of the parliament in Cape Town after it caught ablaze on Sunday, the day that Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s funeral was held in the city.

The fire has been contained and a man was due in court on Tuesday charged with arson.

AFP

South Africa Parliament Fire Under Control, Suspect Charged

A general view of a building on fire at the South African Parliament precinct in Cape Town on January 2, 2022. A major fire broke out in the South African parliament building in Cape Town on January 2, 2022. Firefighters were present at the building as large flames and a huge column of smoke were seen at around 0530 GMT. Obed Zilwa / AFP

 

A fire that ravaged part of South Africa’s parliament, engulfing the National Assembly and threatening national treasures, has been brought under control, firefighters said on Monday, as police charged a suspect with starting the blaze.

Flames broke out early Sunday in the oldest wing of the Cape Town complex, triggering an inferno that crews battled throughout the day.

“The fire was brought under control during the night,” spokesman Jermaine Carelse said, adding that teams were still extinguishing flames in the historic wood-panelled part of the building where it had begun.

“The most damage is in the National Assembly building,” Carelse said. “That won’t be used for months.”

Earlier, parliament spokesman Moloto Mothapo said the roof of the assembly had collapsed and the fire was “so intense” in that part of the building that firefighters had been forced to withdraw.

“The entire chamber where the members sit… has burned down,” he said.

No casualties were reported.

President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters at the scene on Sunday that a man had been held and that the building’s sprinkler systems had apparently failed.

 ‘Criminal Case’

Police said on Monday that they had charged a 49-year-old man whom they had detained inside parliament a day earlier.

The man, who is due to appear in court on Tuesday, has been accused of “housebreaking, arson” and damaging state property, The Hawks elite police unit said.

The parliament’s presiding officers were to meet on Monday with Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille to take stock of the devastation.

Jean-Pierre Smith, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, told reporters the entire complex had suffered extensive water and fire damage.

“Nothing” was left of the part of the building’s historic section, which was completed in 1884, he said.

This is where Parliament keeps treasures including around 4,000 heritage and artworks, some dating back to the 17th century.

The collection includes rare books and the original copy of the former Afrikaans national anthem “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” (“The Voice of South Africa”), which was already damaged.

It also features a 120-metre-long (390-foot) Keiskamma tapestry, named after a river in the southeast of the country, that traces the history of South Africa from the first indigenous peoples, the San, to the historic democratic elections of 1994.

After ravaging the older wing of the building, the flames spread to newer parts of the complex.

Second Fire In A Year 

Around 70 firefighters were deployed on Sunday, some using a crane to spray water on the blaze. Around 20 remained at the scene on Monday to put out the remaining flames.

Images broadcast on television had earlier shown giant flames leaping from the roof.

The area around the blaze was quickly cordoned off, with the cordon stretching to a square where flowers were still displayed in front of the nearby St. George’s Cathedral, where anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s funeral took place on Saturday.

Cape Town has been home to South Africa’s houses of parliament since 1910, when separate administrations formed a union under British dominion and became a predecessor to the modern South African republic.

The site includes the National Assembly and the upper house National Council of Provinces, while the government is based in Pretoria.

It was in parliament where South Africa’s last apartheid-era president, FW de Klerk, announced in 1990 plans to dismantle white-minority rule.

The houses of parliament consist of three sections, with the newer additions constructed in the 1920s and 1980s.

In March another fire also broke out in the older wings of parliament, but it was quickly contained.

Cape Town suffered another major fire in April when a blaze on the famed Table Mountain which overlooks the city spread, ravaging part of the University of Cape Town’s library holding a unique collection of African archives.

AFP

South Africa Lifts Curfew As Omicron Wave Subsides

File photo: A hospital worker puts on gloves as part of her Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the COVID-19 ward at the Somerset Hospital in Cape Town, on July 2, 2020. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP)

 

South Africa, where the Omicron variant was detected last month, says its latest coronavirus wave has peaked without a surge in deaths or hospitalisations, enabling the country to lift a nightly curfew for the first time in 21 months.

The Omicron variant emerged in November to become the pandemic’s dominant variant, driving new cases at a record rate around the world.

“According to experts, Omicron has reached the peak, …with clinical manifestations that have not caused any alarm in the hospital situation,” Mondli Gungubele, a minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office, said on Friday.

“Based on the experts, the conditions do allow that we lift the curfew,” he told a news conference, spelling out a move that the presidency announced the previous evening.

Calls by the hospitality sector for the midnight to 4 am curfew to be lifted had been mounting ahead of the New Year’s Eve celebrations, with restaurant and bar owners launching an online petition to lobby Ramaphosa.

Many countries outside Africa are tightening restrictions to battle a surge in infections.

The minister cautioned “we will monitor the situation on an hour-by-hour basis” and if need be, it would be reinstated, adding “I hope it never comes back.”

Gungubele said the government of Africa’s most advanced but battered economy took the action to try “balance between livelihoods and saving lives.”

“Businesses are suffering,” he said.

READ ALSO: France To Ease COVID-19 Rules As England Says Curbs Are ‘Last Resort’

Omicron Hopes 

The highly contagious Omicron variant, which contains a number of mutations, has fuelled an end-of-year global pandemic resurgence.

But mounting evidence in South Africa and elsewhere has fuelled hopes that Omicron, while more contagious than other strains, may also be less severe.

Infections in South Africa dropped by almost 30 percent last week compared to the preceding seven days, according to the president’s office, and while hospital admissions also declined in eight of the nine provinces.

Even so, the risk of increased infections “remains high,” the presidency warned in its Thursday night statement.

Mask-wearing remains compulsory in public spaces and public gatherings are limited to 1,000 people indoors and 2,000 outdoors.

The government has continued to stress the need for caution and vaccination.

Inoculation rates have also improved — more than 15.6 million people in South Africa have been fully vaccinated, out of a population of 59 million.

Little Rise in Deaths 

During the surge in December, only a marginal increase in Covid-19 deaths was noted, while hospitalisation rates were lower than in previous waves, the presidency statement said.

“This means that the country has a spare capacity for admission of patients even for routine health services.”

Omicron was first identified in South Africa and Botswana in late November.

It quickly became the dominant strain in South Africa, causing an explosion of infections with a peak of about 26,000 daily cases recorded by mid-December, according to official statistics.

The variant is currently present in more than 100 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

It can also infect vaccinated people as well as those who have already had coronavirus, although such individuals are also far less at risk of falling severely ill.

South Africa has been the hardest hit by coronavirus on the continent, recording more than 3.4 million cases and 91,000 deaths. But fewer than 13,000 infections had been recorded in the past 24 hours.

“The speed with which the Omicron-driven fourth wave rose, peaked and then declined has been staggering. Peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two,” Fareed Abdullah of the South African Medical Research Council posted on Twitter.

While many Omicron-affected countries are reimposing virus countermeasures, South Africa announced it was reversing course just ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations and a day before the weekend funeral of the venerated anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu.

AFP

Key Dates In Late Bishop Desmond Tutu’s Life As Funeral Holds

In this file photo taken on April 23, 2014 Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu gestures during a press conference about the first 20 years of freedom in South Africa at St Georges Cathedral in Cape Town. Jennifer BRUCE / AFP

 

Here are key dates in the life of South Africa’s Desmond Mpilo Tutu, a leading figure in the anti-apartheid struggle and international defender of human rights and peace.

Tutu died on Boxing Day at age 90.

– October 7, 1931: He is born in the small town of Klerksdorp, west of Johannesburg, his mother a domestic worker and his father a teacher.

– 1961: Is ordained as an Anglican priest, having studied theology after working as a school teacher.

– 1976: He is appointed the bishop of neighbouring Lesotho.

– 1978: Becomes the first black secretary-general of the South African Council of Churches, a highly influential grouping with 15 million members that is active in the struggle against apartheid.

People and members of the clergy gather near the hearse carrying the casket of South African anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on January 1, 2022, after the requiem mass.  MIKE HUTCHINGS / POOL / AFP

 

– 1984: Is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to South Africa’s apartheid regime. The same year he becomes the first black bishop of Johannesburg and calls for an embargo against the white-minority regime.

– 1986: He is ordained as the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and head of the Anglican Church for Southern Africa, covering two million followers.

– 1996: Two years after the end of apartheid, he heads the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that begins hearings into atrocities committed under the previous regime.

– 1997: Diagnosed with prostate cancer and undergoes repeated treatment over the following years.

– 2007: Helps to found The Elders group of global leaders working for peace and human rights, acting as its chairman until 2013.

 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) hands over the South African national flag to Leah Tutu, widow of South African anti-Apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu, during the requiem mass of Tutu at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on January 1, 2022.  AFP

 

– 2010: Aged 79, he announces his retirement from public life.

– 2013: He declares he will no longer be voting for the African National Congress, South Africa’s long-ruling party, citing inequality, violence and corruption among other reasons.

– 2016: Joined advocates calling for the right to assisted dying.

– 2021: Tutu makes a rare public appearance to receive his Covid-19 vaccine. He emerges from the hospital in a wheelchair, and waves but does not speak.

– 2022: Tutu’s remains to be buried in historic St George’s Cathedral where he preached for 10 years.

AFP

South Africa Bids Farewell To Tutu

Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau touches the coffin during the requiem mass of South African anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on January 1, 2022. AFP

 

South Africa said farewell on Saturday to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the last great hero of the struggle against apartheid, in a funeral stripped of pomp but freighted with glowing tributes and showered with rain.

Tutu died last Sunday at the age of 90, triggering grief among South Africans and tributes from world leaders for a life spent fighting injustice.

Famous for his modesty, Tutu gave instructions for a simple, no-frills ceremony, with a cheap coffin, donations for charity instead of floral tributes, followed by an eco-friendly cremation.

Family, friends, clergy and politicians gathered at Cape Town’s St. George’s Cathedral where, for years, Tutu used the pulpit to rail against a brutal white minority regime. That is where he will be buried.

READ ALSO: Key Dates In Late Bishop Desmond Tutu’s Life As Funeral Holds

“We thank you for loving our father,” said Tutu’s daughter Mpho.

“Because we shared him with the world, you share part of the love you held for him with us, so we are thankful.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who accorded Tutu a funeral usually reserved for presidents, kicked off the eulogy saying had Tutu been alive, “he would have said hey, ‘why are you looking so grim, so unhappy'”.

“While our beloved (Nelson Mandela) was the father of our democracy, Archbishop Tutu was the spiritual father of our new nation.”

 ‘Life lived completely’

“His was a life lived honestly and completely. He has left the world a better place. We remember him with a smile,” said Ramaphosa before handing South Africa’s multicoloured flag to the “chief mourner”, Tutu’s widow, Leah.

The flag — a reminder of Tutu’s description of the post-apartheid country as the “Rainbow Nation”, was the only military rite accorded to him, respecting his request before he died that military protocol be minimal.

The funeral ended South Africa’s week of mourning, during which people filed past a diminutive rope-handled casket made of pine, adorned by a plain bunch of carnations.

At the end of the funeral service, the body was immediately removed from the church.

Under a grey sky and drizzle, among the mourners ushered into the cathedral were ex-Irish President Mary Robinson, and Mandela’s widow Graca Machel. Both read out prayers.

Others included the widow of the last apartheid leader FW de Klerk, who died in November, and ex-presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.

Conspicuously absent was Tutu’s close friend, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who failed to travel due to advanced age and Covid restrictions, according to his representative Ngodup Dorjee.

 ‘Heavens did not collapse’

Tutu’s long-time friend, retired bishop Michael Nuttall, who was Anglican Church dean when Tutu was the archbishop of Cape Town, delivered a sombre sermon.

“Our partnership struck a chord perhaps in the hearts and minds of many people: a dynamic black leader and his white deputy in the dying years of apartheid; and hey presto, the heavens did not collapse,” said Nuttall.

“We were a foretaste… of what could be in our wayward, divided nation.”

Under apartheid, the white minority government cemented its grip with a panoply of laws based on the notion of race and racial segregation, and the police ruthlessly hunted down opponents, killing or jailing them.

With Mandela and other leaders sentenced to decades in prison, Tutu in the 1970s became the emblem of the struggle.

The purple-gowned figure campaigned relentlessly abroad, administering public lashings to the Western world for failing to slap sanctions on the apartheid regime.

At home, from his pulpit, he slammed police violence against blacks. Only his robes saved him from prison and were a shield from police brutality for many protesters.

Humour

After apartheid was dismantled and South Africa ushered in the first free elections in 1994, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which exposed the horrors of the past in grim detail.

He would later admonish the ruling African National Congress for corruption and leadership incompetence.

Tutu’s moral firmness and passion went hand-in-hand with self-deprecatory humour and a famously cackling laugh.

Less than a kilometre away, dozens of people watched the funeral from a big screen.

“He taught us all what love is. And I loved his humour! Very witty,” said 63-year-old housewife Washilah Isaacs, adding that she also liked Tutu’s support for Palestine.

AFP

‘Rainbow Nation’ South Africa Bids Goodbye To Much-Loved Tutu

A woman prays while choir members sing during a celebration in honour of late South African anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the St Albans Cathedral in Pretoria on December 30, 2021. EMMANUEL CROSET / AFP

 

Liz Cowan, a 65-year-old white social worker, grew up in apartheid South Africa being told that the charismatic black cleric Desmond Tutu was a dangerous man.

But on Thursday she joined crowds of people of all races lining up to pay their respects to the fearless fighter against white-majority rule, as he lay in state inside the Cape Town cathedral where he had preached for a decade.

“He was so vilified. It was only as a teenager that I realised he was a good guy,” she recalled, standing in a queue truly representative of a country that Tutu had dubbed “the Rainbow Nation”.

Young and old South Africans came in numbers, patiently waiting to be ushered into St George’s Cathedral to bid farewell to the globally revered icon as he lay in his simple pinewood coffin.

People take photos at the Wall of Remembrance, set up outside St. George’s Cathedral to honour the memory of South African anti-apartheid icon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is lying in repose at the Cathedral, in Cape Town on December 30, 2021. RODGER BOSCH / AFP

 

One of the youngest in line was likely five-month-old Likhanye Mbikwana, who sucked on a dummy as his mother held him in her arms swaddled in a blanket.

“When he grows up, he’ll be seeing his picture on this very important day,” said his 29-year-old mother Amanda Mbikwana.

Born just before the end of apartheid, she said she had come to the “People’s Cathedral” — so called for its role in resisting white-majority rule — to remember Tutu for “all he has done for us as Africans.”

Standing at the front of the line, Joan Coulson, 70, was also eager to sign the condolence book.

She said she had waited in the queue more than three hours before the late archbishop’s body was even brought in.

Coulson, who lives in the Cape Flats, an impoverished area notorious for violent crime, remembered how she first met Tutu at church when she was just 15.

Such was his star power, she said, that “I would compare him with Elvis Presley”, the American rock and roll singer.

READ ALSO‘I Have Prepared For My Death’: 11 Famous Quotes Of Desmond Tutu

No Lavish Bouquets 

People take photos at the Wall of Remembrance, set up outside St. George’s Cathedral to honour the memory of South African anti-apartheid icon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is lying in repose at the Cathedral, in Cape Town on December 30, 2021. RODGER BOSCH / AFP

 

In a city where residents often joke all four seasons can arrive in a single day, the sun came out briefly as the hearse arrived, though it later started to drizzle.

The man many affectionately dubbed the “Arch” had specifically requested no shows of “ostentatiousness”.

There were no gilded handles on his coffin, just thick rope. And there were no lavish bouquets for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

His modest wooden coffin, topped only with a simple bunch of white carnations, was carried into the cathedral at the foot of Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain.

Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, robed in purple, waved a silver thurible of burning incense while priests recited a prayer.

The coffin was placed near the altar, where white candles and delicate stained-glass windows threw light onto a crucifix of Jesus on the cross.

Members of the public queue to view South African anti-Apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu lying in state at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on December 30, 2021.  RODGER BOSCH / AFP

 

The quick-tongued Tutu once joked that, if he was ever denied entrance to heaven and sent instead “to the warmer place”, the devil would be so frustrated with the archbishop that he would ask for political asylum in heaven, just to get away.

AFP

Tutu’s Body Lies In State At South Africa Cathedral

Thabo Makgoba (R), Anglican Archbishop, and Michael Weeder (L), the Dean of St. George’s Cathedral, stands next to the coffin with the remains of South African anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu where he will lie in state at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on December 30, 2021.  AFP

 

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.

A small bouquet of carnations was placed on top of a simple pine coffin carried by six Anglican priests.

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 outside the church waiting for the body to arrive.

Thandi Tutu (C), the daughter of South African anti-Apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is comforted while her father’s coffin arrives to lie in state at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on December 30, 2021. RODGER BOSCH / AFP

 

Following a private cremation, Tutu’s ashes will be interred inside his stonewalled former parish — where he preached for many years — and where bells have been ringing in his memory for 10 minutes at midday every day since Monday.

Hundreds of people have flocked to the cathedral since Sunday — where Tutu served as the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town for a decade until 1996 — to lay flowers and sign a book of condolences.

‘No ostentatiousness’

“We’ve come to pay our respects,” said Joan Coulson, 70, who with her sister had turned up early in the morning to be the first to enter the church to see the coffin.

She first met Tutu, her “rock star”, at the age of 15. “I would compare him with Elvis,” referring to the American rock and roll star .

Joking that the outspoken priest will be rabble-rousing even in heaven, Coulson added: “St Peter will say ‘take it easy’ no ructions!'”

The country’s multi-coloured national flag is flying at half-mast across South Africa.

Several ceremonies are taking place across the country every day until the funeral.

It will be a simple funeral in line with his wishes.

“He wanted no ostentatiousness or lavish spending,” said his foundation, adding he even “asked that the coffin be the cheapest available”.

Only a bouquet of carnations from his family will be on display in the cathedral on a funeral day.

In line with Covid-19 restrictions, only 100 mourners will attend the funeral.

Tutu had also wanted military rites to be limited.

Only the South African flag will be presented to his wife Leah, with whom he was married in 1955 and had four children.

Weakened by advanced age and prostate cancer, the Nobel Peace laureate had retired from public life in recent years.

He retired in 1996 to lead a harrowing journey into South Africa’s dark past as chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which exposed the horrors of apartheid in terrible detail.

AFP

‘A Giant Has Fallen’: More Tributes Pour In For Desmond Tutu

In this file photo taken on March 19, 2003 This combo picture shows former chairman of South Africa’s Truth Commission, Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks during an interview with AFP in Pretoria

 

South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu died Sunday aged 90, sparking tributes from around the world.

 Barack Obama

In this file photo taken on August 21, 2006, Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize winner meets with Barack Obama, US senator for Illinois at Tutu’s offices in Cape Town.(Photo by Rodger BOSCH / AFP)

 

Former US president Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black leader, called Tutu “a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass” who could “find humanity in his adversaries”.

“A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere,” said the fellow Nobel Peace laureate in a statement.

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 Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden said he was “heartbroken” to learn of the archbishop’s death.

“Desmond Tutu followed his spiritual calling to create a better, freer, and more equal world,” Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said in a statement that praised Tutu’s “courage and moral clarity”.

Pope Francis

The Vatican said in a statement that Pope Francis was saddened and offered “heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones”.

“Mindful of his service to the gospel through the promotion of racial equality and reconciliation in his native South Africa, his holiness commends his soul to the loving mercy of almighty God.”

 The Elders

“We are all devastated,” said Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders, a group of global leaders working for peace and human rights that Tutu co-founded.

“He inspired me to be a ‘prisoner of hope’, in his inimitable phrase,” said Robinson, a former president of Ireland.

The Elders said in a statement they had “lost a dear friend, whose infectious laugh and mischievous sense of humour delighted and charmed them all”.

 African Union

“A man of faith convinced in the power of reconciliation through restorative justice,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, the current chair of the African Union.

Tutu, he added, “was a true shepherd of peace”.

Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tutu’s passing was “a big blow” not only to South Africa but to the entire African continent.

“Archbishop Tutu inspired a generation of African leaders who embraced his non-violent approaches in the liberation struggle,” he said.

Bobi Wine

“A giant has fallen,” wrote Uganda opposition leader Bobi Wine on Twitter.

“We thank God for his life — a purposeful life truly lived in the service of humanity.”

UN Secretary-General

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres called Tutu “a towering global figure for peace and an inspiration to generations across the world”.

“During the darkest days of apartheid, he was a shining beacon for social justice, freedom and non-violent resistance,” Guterres said in a statement.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II called Tutu a “man who tirelessly championed human rights in South Africa and across the world”.

“I remember with fondness my meetings with him and his great warmth and humour,” she said in a statement.

Boris Johnson 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Tutu “a critical figure in the fight against apartheid and in the struggle to create a new South Africa”.

He “will be remembered for his spiritual leadership and irrepressible good humour,” Johnson tweeted.

Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron said Tutu had “dedicated his life to human rights and equality between peoples”.

“His struggle for the end of apartheid and for reconciliation in South Africa will remain in our memory,” he tweeted.

 Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba said the life of Tutu, a “deeply spiritual person”, should be celebrated.

“He named wrong wherever he saw it and by whomever, it was committed. He challenged the systems that demeaned humanity.”

 Charles Michel

“A man who gave his life to freedom with a deep commitment to human dignity,” European Council President Charles Michel wrote on Twitter.

“A giant who stood up against apartheid. You will be deeply missed.”

Olaf Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called Tutu “a lifelong advocate of the principles of humanity, freedom and equality”.

Justin Trudeau

“Archbishop Tutu was a voice for the oppressed and a tireless advocate for human rights — and the world is a better place because he was in it,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

Jonas Gahr Store

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store paid tribute to a man who “showed the power of reconciliation and forgiveness”.

Highlighting Tutu’s Nobel award, he added: “Never has a peace prize been so fitting.”

AFP

South Africa Begin Week Of Mourning For Anti-Apartheid Giant Tutu

A graffiti art depicting the late South African Nobel Peace Price Archbishop Desmond Tutu is seen on a wall in a street in Cape Town CBD on December 26, 2021. GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP
A graffiti art depicting the late South African Nobel Peace Price Archbishop Desmond Tutu is seen on a wall in a street in Cape Town CBD on December 26, 2021. GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP

 

South Africa on Monday began a week of mourning for revered anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate passed away on Sunday aged 90, stripping the world of a towering moral figure and the last great protagonist of a heroic South African era.

“He was brave, he was forthright and we loved him just for that, because he was the voice of the voiceless,” President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters after visiting Tutu’s family in Cape Town.

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The funeral will be held on New Year’s Day at St George’s Cathedral in his former Cape Town parish, Tutu’s foundation said, although ceremonies are likely to be muted because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Dozens of people braved rain to gather outside the cathedral on Monday, leaving flowers and messages.

The widow of South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel, issued a statement to say she mourned “the loss of a brother”.

Tutu “is the last of an extraordinarily outstanding generation of leaders that Africa birthed and gifted to the world”, she said.

“He stood resolute and fearless, leading demonstrations cloaked in his flowing clerical robe with his cross as his shield — the embodiment of humankind’s moral conscience.”

The bells of St George’s will ring for 10 minutes from noon each day until Friday. The cathedral has asked those who hear the sound to pause in their daily work and think of Tutu.

A memorial service will be held in the capital Pretoria on Wednesday. Family and friends will gather on Thursday evening around Tutu’s widow, “Mama Leah”.

A lady holds a bouquet of flowers while mourning the passing of South African anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu, in front of his home in Soweto on December 26, 2021. EMMANUEL CROSET / AFP
A lady holds a bouquet of flowers while mourning the passing of South African anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu, in front of his home in Soweto on December 26, 2021. EMMANUEL CROSET / AFP

 

On Friday, his remains will be placed in the cathedral on the eve of the funeral, although attendance at his farewell on Saturday will be capped at 100, according to the archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba.

Around 400 people have already expressed their intention to attend the event.

But Makgoba told a press conference: “Only a fraction of those who want to be there can be accommodated in the cathedral. So please don’t get on a bus to Cape Town.”

Singing at the ceremony will also have to be moderated because of Covid curbs, officials said.

Tutu’s remains will be cremated and his ashes will stay in the cathedral.

A ‘shield’

Crackling with humour and warmth, Tutu will be most remembered for fearlessly speaking out against white minority rule, which garnered him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

He was appointed archbishop in 1986 and used his position to advocate tirelessly for international sanctions against apartheid.

He coined the term “Rainbow Nation” to describe South Africa when Mandela became the country’s first black president in 1994.

He retired in 1996 to lead a harrowing journey into South Africa’s past as head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which exposed the horrors of apartheid in terrible detail.

Panyaza Lesufi, a senior member of the African National Congress (ANC), which swept aside apartheid and remains in power, said Tutu’s unique status had provided a “shield” during protests.

“When we were young activists we knew as long as Archbishop Tutu is there the police and the army will not shoot at us,” he tweeted.

But Tutu’s fight against injustice continued long after racial segregation ended.

He excoriated the ANC for fostering cronyism, corruption and incompetence after it was voted into office.

‘Truly meaningful life’

Tributes poured in from across the globe, including from heads of state and religious leaders, with US President Joe Biden saying he was “heartbroken” by the news.

Barack Obama, the first black US president, hailed Tutu as a “moral compass”.

Tutu’s great friend the Dalai Lama, who is expected to speak at his funeral, said in a statement that “we have lost a great man, who lived a truly meaningful life”.

Anglican leader Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said Tutu “was a great warrior for justice who never stopped fighting.”

“When you were in parts of the world where there was little Anglican presence and people weren’t sure what the Anglican Church was, it was enough to say ‘It’s the Church that Desmond Tutu belongs to’,” Welby said in a statement.

Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997 and repeatedly underwent treatment.

He had been in a weakened state for several months and died peacefully at 7 am (0500 GMT) on Sunday, according to several of his relatives interviewed by AFP.

In his final years, his public appearances became rarer. This year, he emerged from hospital in a wheelchair to get a Covid vaccine, waving but not offering comment.

AFP