South Africa has begun a week of mourning for the late anti-apartheid campaigner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
It was reported that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate passed away on Sunday, aged 90.
AFP reports that South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, after visiting Tutu’s family said, “He was brave, he was forthright and we loved him just for that, because he was the voice of the voiceless.”
The funeral has been scheduled to hold on New Year’s Day at St George’s Cathedral in his former Cape Town parish.
Tutu’s foundation said ceremonies are likely to be muted because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Meanwhile, scores of people gathered outside the cathedral on Monday dropping their flowers and messages.
The widow of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel, also issued a statement to mourn “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.”
It was further learnt that the bells of St George’s will be made to 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”.
After that, on Friday, Tutu’s remains will be placed in the cathedral on the eve of the funeral while 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.”
Officials also stated that singing at the ceremony will also have to be moderated because of Covid curbs.
Tutu’s remains will be cremated and his ashes will stay in the cathedral.
The late anti-apartheid 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.
Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997 and he was said to have repeatedly undergone treatment.
He had been in a weakened state for several months and died peacefully at 7am on Sunday.
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.