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Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s funeral set to take place on 1st January

by Kelly Valencia

It has been confirmed the funeral of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died on Boxing Day, will take place on 1st January at St George the Martyr Cathedral in Cape Town.

During a press conference, the Archbishop of Cape Town, Most Rev Thabo Makgoba, announced there are a number of events and services taking place across the country before his funeral at 10 am on Saturday.

From 27th until 31st December, bells will ring at 12 noon each day at the Cathedral and in many cathedrals and churches across the land. In Cape Town, the Angelus prayer will be recited.

On 29th December, the City of Cape Town will host an Interfaith Memorial Service at 6 pm on but further details are yet to be announced.

Memorial and Ecumenical Thanksgiving services will also be held by the Dioceses of the Highveld, Kimberley and Kuruman, Pretoria and Johannesburg on Thursday. Following this, an “intimate evening” will be held for Archibishop Tutu's friends and his wife.

The 90-year-old’s body will then lie in state at St George’s Cathedral from 7 am to 7 pm on Friday, as people will be given the opportunity to file past his coffin and pay their respects before the funeral service starts on Saturday.

Condolence books have been prepared and there will be designated places to leave flowers outside the cathedral. 

Archbishop Thago said at least 400 people had confirmed their attendance at the funeral, including 100 clergies. He appealed to people to attend events in their hometowns rather than to travel to Cape Town.

“Only a fraction of those who want to attend can be accommodated. At the cathedral, we can only accommodate 500 people, but because of Covid-19 restrictions and protocols we will only allow 200 people to enter at a time.

“People will be allowed to enter as those inside leave. We appeal to people not board busses to head to Cape Town, but to rather celebrate the Arch’s life from the places where they live,” he said.

The funeral service will be an Anglican Requiem Mass, with preaching from Bishop Michael Nuttall, a close friend of Tutu's who, in the 1980s, demonstrated how a white leader could work for and closely with a black leader.

The service will be live-streamed on YouTube.

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