Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
2 minute read
28 Dec 2021
12:58 pm

Archbishop Tutu to be honoured with Category 1 state funeral

Cheryl Kahla

The provision was bestowed by President Ramaphosa as 'a mark of deep respect'. Here's what a Category 1 state funeral entails.

Desmond Tutu. Picture: Gallo Images/BusinessDay/Robert Tshabalala

On Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the late Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu will be accorded an official Category 1 state funeral.

Government explains the decision for Category 1 funeral was made based on the “recognition of the late Archbishop Emeritus’ distinguished life and invaluable contribution to the nation”.

The Special Official Funeral will take place in St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, on New Year’s Day.

Here’s what you need to know.

Archbishop Tutu’s funeral

Half-masted flag

The Category 1 provision was bestowed by President Ramaphosa as “a mark of deep respect” for the late Archbishop.

As per Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, the flag will fly half-mast throughout the country – and at diplomatic missions worldwide – from sunset today until the evening of the funeral on Saturday.

In addition, the funeral will be held in compliance with Covid-19 health regulations and protocols, in line with the Adjusted Alert Level 1 of the national state of disaster.

What is a Category 1 state funeral?

A State Funeral is a public funeral ceremony with full military ceremonial honours, usually reserved for all Presidents of South Africa, as well as other notable individuals.

There are two categories for state funerals.

Category 1 State Funeral

A State Funeral Category 1 is reserved for the President of the Republic of South Africa, the president-elect and former presidents. 

For Category 1 state funerals, the balustrades and pillars of the Union Buildings, City Hall of the capital city, and any other building as requested by the president will be draped in black cloth. 

Category 2 State Funeral

State Funeral Category 2 is usually reserved for the deputy president, acting president, and former deputy presidents, as well as spouses of the serving president, deputy president, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeal.  

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa declares Category 2 funeral for NFP leader KaMagwaza-Msibi

What to expect from Archbishop Tutu’s funeral

The distinguishing features of a Special Official Funeral – Category 1 include ceremonial elements by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

The funeral processions for Category 1 funeral will in most cases be led by the military, and includes the following:

  • 21 gun salute
  • Guard of honour
  • Poll bearers
  • Fly past
  • Gun carriage to carry the coffin
  • Brass band
  • Street lining
  • Playing of the National Anthem

However, based on the late Archbishop’s wishes, the SANDF ceremonial content will be limited to the handing over of the National Flag to his widow, Mama Leah Tutu.

Other notable South Africans who were honoured with a Category 1 state funeral include former President Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Minister Jackson Mthembu, King Zwelithini, and human rights lawyer George Bizos.

The Archbishop, who was a globally venerated theologian, anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, passed away on Sunday, 26 December 2021.

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