(Update 1: Adds details and remarks by South Africa’s president)
Johannesburg, Jan 1 (EFE).- South Africa on Saturday bid farewell to Archbishop Desmond Tutu with a state funeral at Cape Town’s Anglican Cathedral of St. George.
“Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been our moral compass and national conscience,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said during a speech he delivered during the funeral.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, only 100 people were permitted to take part in the ceremony.
Former presidents of the country, such as Thabo Mbeki (1999-2008) and Kgalema Motlanthe (2008-2009), have taken part in the funeral of South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon and global human rights activist.
King Letsie III of Lesotho, Mozambican activist Graça Machel – Nelson Mandela’s widow – and former Irish president Mary Robinson, close to Tutu, also participated in the funeral.
The Dalai Lama – also a friend of Tutu – could not attend due to the pandemic and visa issues, a representative who participated on his behalf told local media.
Naomi Tutu, daughter of the Archbishop, delivered a brief speech as did the Primate of the Anglican Church and Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, but via video.
As part of the state funeral, Ramaphosa presented the national flag to the widow of the archbishop, Nomalizo Leah Tutu, the only element of a military nature that the deceased wanted to include in his funeral.
This state funeral concludes a week of events held across the country in honor of the late archbishop, including an open casket that received hundreds of visitors looking to bid a final farewell in recent days.
Tutu is to be cremated after the service and his ashes will be placed beneath the floor at the cathedral where he presided as Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986-1996.
He received the Nobel Prize in 1984 in recognition of his role in the struggle against South Africa’s racist apartheid system.
Under President Mandela, he led a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that gave victims a chance to be heard and perpetrators an opportunity to avoid prosecution if they confessed to their crimes.
In his later years, Tutu showed himself willing to clash with the Anglican hierarchy over his support for LGBT rights and euthanasia.
He died at the age of 90 on December 26. EFE