News / South Africa

Sanele Gumada
2 minute read
13 Apr 2018
6:30 am

Tutu too frail to be at Winnie’s funeral

Sanele Gumada

The archbishop and his wife, Nomalizo Leah Tutu, 85, had already paid their respects and sympathised with Madikizela-Mandela’s family.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela speaks with Archbishop Desmond Tutu during the memorial service of former president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium (Soccer City) in Johannesburg on December 10, 2013. Picture: AFP

Eighty-seven-year-old Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will not be attending the funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela due to his frail and elderly state.

Tutu’s spokesperson Benny Gool confirmed this yesterday, saying the archbishop and his wife, Nomalizo Leah Tutu, 85, had already paid their respects and sympathised with Madikizela-Mandela’s family.

“Archbishop Tutu has retired and doesn’t attend public events anymore,” said Gool.

During the visit, the Tutus were accompanied by chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang, and his wife Thembi Hatang.

Tutu’s other spokesperson, Roger Friedman, said Tutu and Madikizela-Mandela’s family were neighbours in Soweto for several years.

“When Ms Madikizela-Mandela was banished to Brandfort [in the Free State], the Archbishop – then Bishop of Lesotho – regularly travelled to visit and pray with her,” said Friedman.

In 1990, Tutu and the late Madikizela-Mandela marched together in protest against the continued imprisonment of her husband Nelson Mandela.

After learning of the death of Madikizela-Mandela, Tutu shared his deepest condolences to the family and described Madikizela-Mandela as “a defining symbol of the struggle against apartheid, who refused to be bowed by the imprisonment of her husband, the harassment of her family by security forces, detentions, bannings or banishment”.

Tutu has been living with prostate cancer for decades, and caused a public outcry after his 85th birthday in 2017, when he shared his desire to have the option of an assisted death. Despite the backlash, he has since reaffirmed his support for the legalising of assisted death.

He was hospitalised in 2016, following signs of infection from a surgical wound, following a procedure to address the recurring infections related to his prostate cancer treatment.

Madikizela-Mandela will be buried tomorrow. Her funeral service will take place at Orlando Stadium and she will be laid to rest at Fourways Memorial Park.

This is where her great-granddaughter, Zenani Zanethemba Nomasonto Mandela, was buried. Zenani died in a car crash at 13, after attending the opening ceremony of the Fifa World Cup in 2010.

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