WATCH | Long queues form outside St George's Cathedral as public gathers to pay tribute to Tutu

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  • Long queues formed outside St George's Cathedral as members of the public gathered to pay their last respects to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. 
  • Large crowds are expected to visit the cathedral over two days.
  • Mourners were allowed to file past his body and say their final goodbyes.

Long queues formed outside St George's Cathedral on Thursday as members of the public flocked to pay their last respects to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. 

Tutu's casket will lie in state over the next two days for the public to view ahead of his funeral on Saturday. As per his request, the Arch's casket was simple and basic, lacking any form of extravagance.

The long snaking queue stretched as far as the Gardens. 

Mourners were allowed to file past his body and say their final goodbyes.

Large crowds are expected to visit the cathedral over the two days.

On Thursday, members of the public made their way to the cathedral to pay their respects to the much-revered clergyman.

WATCH | Archbishop Desmond Tutu was 'stressed' about the direction SA was taking - Frank Chikane

Tutu had been a driving force in the struggle to abolish the apartheid system enforced by the white-minority government against the black majority in South Africa from the late 1940s until the early 1990s. 

Among those who paid their respects was Mamello Letsoko who travelled from Pretoria. 

"I am so grateful for this opportunity that we were afforded to pay our respects; I happen to be in Cape Town, and I was not going to miss this opportunity," she said. 

Geraldine van Heerden paid her respects as well.

She said Tutu was a close family friend and her father used to be Tutu's driver. 

"It's a great loss for our country and the entire world. Tutu admitted me into the choir and he confirmed me and he lived in our home when I was a child. I've known him since I was 10 years old," she said. 

One of Tutu's significant moments during South Africa's darkest days was when he took charge and led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

WATCH | 'The only thing he taught us was love' - Desmond Tutu's Soweto neighbours

He was forced to listen to harrowing stories from families who had lost their loved ones due to apartheid atrocities which often reduced him to tears. 

Charles Villa-Vicencio was a former research director at the TRC and spent many a day with Tutu.

He also paid his last respects to Tutu whom he had known for more than 50 years. 

"It was a moment of farewell, and farewells are always difficult. I thought back when I worked with the Arch; he is a father, a mentor and a symbol of this nation that must be kept alive. The Arch was always a very inclusive man, he included many people in the commission, and he was a man of incredible dignity and authority," Villa-Vicencio said.

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