Desmond Tutu's body lies in state for the final day

Desmond Tutu’s body lies in state ‘in the cheapest coffin possible’ for the final day as South Africans are given a last chance to show their respects before his funeral tomorrow

  • The body of Desmond Tutu lies in state for a second day today in South Africa
  • It is the second and last day that South Africans can pay their respects to him
  • Tutu’s funeral is arranged to be held tomorrow and his body will be cremated

South Africans have been offered one last chance to pay their respects to Archbishop Desmond Tutu ahead of his funeral tomorrow, as his body lay in state for a second day today.   

A church band, which included a pre-schooler trumpeter, performed outside the church as the cortège pulled up to bring back the modest pinewood coffin containing one of the titans of South Africa’s history.

Tutu’s successor, Thabo Makgoba, waved a chalice of burning incense over the coffin before pall bearers – including Anglican vicars – took the coffin from a silver Mercerdes SUV hearse.

They slowly walked up the stairs into the cathedral where Tutu preached for a decade.

The body of Archbishop Desmond Tutu is lying in state in ‘the cheapest available’ coffin at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, offering one last chance for South Africans to pay their respects ahead of his funeral this weekend

Members of Tutu’s family hugged and consoled each other in front of the church as the body arrived around 8.10am local time (0610 GMT).

His body has been lying in ‘the cheapest available’ coffin, according to his foundation, with Tutu having previously requested ‘no lavish spending’ on his funeral arrangements.

The globally revered anti-apartheid icon died peacefully aged 90 on Sunday and he is set to be cremated. His ashes will be buried at the weekend.

Around 2,000 ordinary South Africans of all races and ages filed past his closed coffin in southern Africa’s oldest cathedral on Thursday, according to a church official.

The globally revered anti-apartheid icon (pictured) died peacefully aged 90 on Sunday and he is set to be cremated

Following a private cremation, Tutu’s ashes will be interred inside the cathedral, whose bells have been pealing in his memory for 10 minutes at midday every day since Monday.

Tutu retired as Archbishop after 10 years in 1996 and went on 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.

South Africa is marking a week of mourning for Tutu, with the country’s multi-coloured flag flying at half-mast nationwide and ceremonies taking place every day until the funeral.

Weakened by advanced age and prostate cancer, Tutu had retired from public life in recent years.

He is survived by his wife Leah and four children, and several grand and great grandchildren.

Earlier this week, South Africa announced that the cathedral where Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu preached in Cape Town would ring its bells for ten minutes every day until his funeral.

St. George’s Anglican Cathedral has been honouring the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate with a tribute at midday for the last few days. 

‘We ask all who hear the bells to pause their busy schedules for a moment in tribute to Archbishop Tutu,’ said the current Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba.

Pictured: The casket containing the body of Desmond Tutu is transported to St George’s Cathedral this morning for his lying in state

South Africans have been laying flowers at the cathedral, in front of Tutu’s home in Cape Town’s Milnerton area, and in front of his former home in Soweto.

The activist prelate worked against South Africa’s apartheid regime that oppressed the country’s Black majority. 

Following the end of apartheid in 1994, when South Africa became a democracy, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that documented atrocities and sought to promote national reconciliation. 

Tutu also became one of the world’s most prominent religious leaders to champion LGBTQ rights. 

Nontomi and Mpho, daughters of the late Archbishop, and his granddaughter Nyaniso Burris follow Tutu’s casket into the cathedral this morning

‘He knew in his soul that good would triumph over evil, that justice would prevail over iniquity, and that reconciliation would prevail over revenge and recrimination. He knew that apartheid would end, that democracy would come,’ South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said of Tutu, in a nationally broadcast address Sunday night.

‘He knew that our people would be free. By the same measure, he was convinced, even to the end of his life, that poverty, hunger and misery can be defeated; that all people can live together in peace, security and comfort,’ said Ramaphosa who added that South Africa’s flags will be flown at half-staff this week.

Ramaphosa urged all South Africans to ‘pay respects to the departed and to celebrate life with the exuberance and the purpose of our beloved Archbishop. May we follow in his footsteps.

‘May we too be worthy inheritors of the mantle of service, of selflessness, of courage, and of principled solidarity with the poor and marginalized.’

Timeline: The schoolteacher’s son who inspired change

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a beacon of progress in South Africa and around the world. Following the news of his death on Sunday, MailOnline looks back at his storied life.

1931 – Desmond Tutu is born in Klerksdorp, a town around 170 km (105 miles) to the west of Johannesburg.

1943 – Tutu’s Methodist family joins the Anglican Church.

1947 – Tutu falls ill with tuberculosis while studying at a secondary school near Sophiatown, Johannesburg. He befriends a priest and serves in his church after recovering from illness.

1948 – The white National Party launches apartheid in the run-up to 1948 national elections. It wins popular support among white voters who want to maintain their dominance over the Black majority.

1955 – Tutu marries Nomalizo Leah Shenxane and begins teaching at a high school in Johannesburg where his father is the headmaster.

1958 – Tutu quits the school, refusing to be part of a teaching system that promotes inequality against Black students. He joins the priesthood.

1961 – Is ordained as an Anglican priest, having studied theology.

1962 – Tutu moves to Britain to study theology at King’s College London.

1966 – Tutu moves back to South Africa and starts teaching theology at a seminary in the Eastern Cape. He also begins making his views against apartheid known.

1975 – Tutu becomes the first Black Anglican Dean of Johannesburg.

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. 

1980 – As general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Tutu leads a delegation of church leaders to Prime Minister PW Botha, urging him to end apartheid. Although nothing comes of the meeting it is a historical moment where a Black leader confronts a senior white government official. The government confiscates Tutu’s passport.

1984 – Tutu is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring about the end of white minority rule.

1985 – Tutu becomes the first Black Bishop of Johannesburg. He publicly endorses an economic boycott of South Africa and civil disobedience as a way to dismantle apartheid.

1986 – Tutu becomes the first Black person appointed as Bishop of Cape Town and head of the Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa. With other church leaders he mediates conflicts between Black protesters and government security forces.

1990 – State President FW de Klerk unbans the African National Congress (ANC) and announces plans to release Nelson Mandela from prison.

1991 – Apartheid laws and racist restrictions are repealed and power-sharing talks start between the state and 16 anti-apartheid groups.

1994 – After Mandela sweeps to power at the helm of the ANC in the country’s first democratic elections, Tutu coins the term ‘Rainbow Nation’ to describe the coming together of various races in post-apartheid South Africa.

1994 – Mandela asks Tutu to chair the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was set up to listen to, record and in some cases grant amnesty to perpetrators of human right violations under apartheid.

1996 – Tutu retires from the church to focus solely on the commission. He continues his activism, advocating for equality and reconciliation and is later named Archbishop Emeritus.

1997 – Tutu is diagnosed with prostate cancer. He has since been hospitalised to treat recurring infections.

2011 – The Dalai Lama inaugurates the annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture but does so via satellite link after the South African government denies the Tibetan spiritual leader a visa to attend.

2013 – Tutu makes outspoken comments about the ANC. He says he will no longer vote for the party because it had done a bad job addressing inequality, violence and corruption.

2013 – Dubbed ‘the moral compass of the nation’, Tutu declares his support for gay rights, saying he would never ‘worship a God who is homophobic’.

2016 – Joins advocates calling for the right to assisted dying. 

2021 – A frail-looking Tutu is wheeled into his former parish at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, which used to be a safe haven for anti-apartheid activists, for a special thanksgiving service marking his 90th birthday.

Dec. 26, 2021 – Tutu dies in Cape Town, aged 90.

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