Ramaphosa calls on public to honour Tutu through championing social justice

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the public to honour the late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu by championing the course of social justice that he tirelessly campaigned for during his entire life.

Tutu died in Cape Town last Sunday at the age of 90.

Ramaphosa was speaking at the funeral service of the late Arch at the St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on Saturday. The funeral was attended by a number of dignitaries including former Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe as well former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Lesotho’s King Letsie III, Reverend Allan Boesak, and Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo among others.

‘Moral compass’

The world has joined South Africa in bidding farewell to an extraordinary person and the global religious icon Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

And for his contribution to the rainbow nation he dreamt of before 1994, the democratic government has designated him the Special Official Funeral Category One, with its President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering the eulogy.

Known for not having a chronic desire for approval and validation but uncompromising and speaking truth to power, President Ramaphosa says the late Archbishop Emeritus Tutu was the country’s moral compass and national conscience.

He has called on the public to honour the late Arch as he was affectionately known, by taking up his campaign for social justice.

To the Tutu family, the President says the nation is with them in their sorrow.

At the end of the State funeral, President Ramaphosa handed over the national flag to Leah Tutu, the widow of the late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s eulogy at the funeral service of Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

Heavy downpours

Heavy downpours in Cape Town have put a damper on what was expected to be the public viewing area at the Parade for the funeral of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

The City of Cape Town put up television screens for the public, but not many braved the rain to send off the Arch in a fitting manner. Only a hundred accredited guests were able to attend the funeral ceremony at the St Georges Cathedral — due to COVID restrictions.

Streets around the Cathedral were all cordoned off with traffic officials urging motorists to avoid the precinct. These members of the public say it was important for them to show up for the Arch — even under the adverse weather conditions.

Numerous venues across Cape Town set up for Arch’s final send-off:

Below are some of the reactions:

“I was in the struggle with Desmond Tutu in 1994, when Nelson Mandela was released I was with him and Allan Boesak. I want to thank the Lord for the 91 years He spared him.”

“We had to come to this parade, Desmond Tutu personally impacted my life. In 1991 I received the Desmond Tutu scholarship to study in Los Angeles… so I have much gratitude to give to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, also because in his death there’s renewal.”

“He’s one of the great ones, I had to come.”

The oldest black Anglican parish in Langa, St Cyprian says it remembers the Arch’s role as that of bravery and courage. Church elder Nombuyiselo Nonkonyana says the Arch led from the front.

“I remember seeing him in 1976 when he was in the forefront with the kids in front of kids, in front of teargas and bullets but that, but that didn’t deter him not a sinlge day to us he instilled church without walls, the church was pivotal those days.”

Tutu is survived by his wife Leah, his four children, Trevor, Thandeka, Nontombi and Mpho and his sister, Gloria Radebe. He also has seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


Tutu’s body will be cremated and then his ashes interred behind the cathedral’s pulpit in a private ceremony.

“Small in physical stature, he was a giant among us morally and spiritually,” said retired Bishop Michael Nuttall, who served as Tutu’s deputy for many years.

Life-size posters of Tutu, with his hands clasped, were placed outside the cathedral, where the number of congregants was restricted in line with COVID-19 measures.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who leads the global Anglican Communion, said in a recorded message: “People have said ‘when we were in the dark, he brought light’ and that… has lit up countries globally that are struggling with fear, conflicts, persecution, oppression.”

Tutu’s family members were visibly emotional.

His daughter, Reverend Nontombi Naomi Tutu, thanked well-wishers for their support as the Mass began, her voice briefly quivering with emotion.

Below is the playlist of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu videos: 


-Additional reporting by Thandiswa Mawu and Reuters