South Africa


Table Mountain to turn purple in honour of the Arch, City of Cape Town provides condolence books for mourners

Table Mountain to turn purple in honour of the Arch, City of Cape Town provides condolence books for mourners
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - 20 May 1998: Archbishop Desmond Tutu rejoices after receiving freedom of the City, surrounded by photographers. (Photo by Gallo Images/Oryx Media Archive)

For many years, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has been a figure of integrity, strength and compassion in South Africa. While mourning his death, the City of Cape Town wants to celebrate the uplifting impact he had on the country. The city’s team will be facilitating road closures and providing condolence books over the coming week, to ensure a coordinated and inclusive commemoration of Tutu’s legacy.

The death of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu – a beloved South African icon and long-time activist – has left many around the country reeling. In Cape Town, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has given his assurance that the city will provide support to Tutu’s family, the church and the state in whatever arrangements are needed to make the next few weeks a true celebration of Tutu’s life.

“I know I speak for the whole City of Cape Town, for every Capetonian, in conveying our deep condolences to you, Your Grace [Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town], to the entire global Anglican community, to Mama Leah, to family, to all of his friends gathered here, and so many others, thousands around the world,” said Hill-Lewis.

Hill-Lewis was speaking at a press briefing at the Cape Town Civic Centre on Sunday. The other speakers in attendance were Makgoba; Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille; Dr Mamphela Ramphele, acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust; and Niclas Kjellström-Matseke, chairperson of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. 

The city has closed Wale and Queen Victoria streets around St George’s Cathedral, as well as the streets surrounding Tutu’s home, in order to preserve the privacy of the church and the family at this time. There will be further road closures over the coming week, to facilitate further arrangements around Tutu’s passing, according to Hill-Lewis.

“Our team is on standby 24 hours a day now, to assist wherever we possibly can,” he said.

The City of Cape Town will be issuing condolence books and candles to all city facilities from Sunday, according to Hill-Lewis. These will be accessible to the public over the coming week, to write a tribute to Tutu.

“We invite Capetonians to go down to their local city offices to go and sign those condolence books, and to say a word of prayer and thanksgiving for the life and memory of the Arch,” said Hill-Lewis. A condolence book will also be issued to St George’s Cathedral, he added.

The first of the condolence books was presented at Cape Town Civic Centre. At the closing of the briefing, Makgoba, De Lille, Hill-Lewis, Ramphele and Kjellström-Matseke each wrote their tribute to Tutu.

The City of Cape Town will also light up Table Mountain in purple in honour of Tutu.

Responding to Daily Maverick’s questions after the briefing, Hill-Lewis said that the City of Cape Town will be holding a memorial service for Tutu, the details of which will be announced in coming days.

“[Tutu was] part of a generation that is slowly but surely beginning to leave us behind. The great leaders of Tata Madiba, Robert Sobukwe, Steve Bantu Biko. I mean, he comes from that era,” said De Lille. “And we do experience a deficit of leadership around the world, and I think the Arch has always been there to fill that vacuum. So, he will surely be missed.”

In losing Tutu, South Africans have lost someone who spoke openly both during apartheid and in democratic South Africa, and who did not fear any political system or profiteer, said Makgoba.

“I think we could really try as South Africans to do what he used to do. He saw each one of us not in terms of race, status, position or class… he saw each one of us as created in the image of God and reflecting that spark,” said Makgoba.

In her speech, Ramphele described Tutu as a man who always spoke truth to power in the hopes that South Africans, as part of a nation with a wonderful heritage of ubuntu, would rise to their responsibilities.

“I believe that the greatest tribute we can pay to the Archbishop would be for us to mark today, this Boxing Day, as a day on which each one of us are going to start a journey of healing,” said Ramphele. DM



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