'He was at peace': Tutu was surrounded by family in his final hours

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The day before their 50th wedding anniversary, Archbishop Emeritus, anti-apartheid activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Desmond Tutu with his wife Leah, relaxing in the garden at their home in Soweto, Johannesburg.
The day before their 50th wedding anniversary, Archbishop Emeritus, anti-apartheid activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Desmond Tutu with his wife Leah, relaxing in the garden at their home in Soweto, Johannesburg.
(Photo by Oryx Media Archive/Gallo Images/Getty Im
  • Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace prize laureate who played a pivotal role in ending apartheid, has died at the age of 90.
  • Tutu was one of South Africa's best-known figures and moral giants at home and abroad.
  • Tributes continue to pour in for him.


Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu died peacefully in Cape Town, with his wife Leah at his side.

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said the last rites of "Amen, Hallelujah" for the former teacher and anti-apartheid cleric. 

"He was at peace," Makgoba told News24 on the sidelines of a press briefing on Sunday. 

With his family around him, Tutu died at the age of 90.

READ | The world is different because of Tutu, says Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

"We have to rely on the grace of God to carry us up," Makgoba said as the streets around St George's Cathedral and his Milnerton home were closed in preparation for memorial services and the requiem. 

"We did the Anglican rites, and prayer always strengthens us. And I hope Desmond Tutu is at peace and he is freed from pain and he is with his maker," Makgoba added.

Interfaith, ecumenical and memorial services are being planned, as well as an Anglican requiem mass. 

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis conveyed condolences to Tutu's family and said the City would be available to assist in any way it could for his funeral. 

"I know that I speak on behalf of every Capetonian when I convey those condolences and say we've lost our greatest Capetonian. We will cherish his life and remember it and also seek to celebrate his remarkable achievements and his lesson and inspiration to all of us." 

Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille said she was among those who were assisting the family in his final hours. 

"He looked so peaceful. He just closed his eyes." 

"Mama Leah was there. She was lying next to him in the bed." 

De Lille left the press conference shortly afterwards to go to Tutu's home in Milnerton to make sure the infrastructure for his funeral was in place.

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