JOHANNESBURG: A statue of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu wearing a Palestinian scarf will be put up in Cape Town on Friday to symbolise his decades-long work championing justice for Palestinians, his foundation said.

The late Nobel peace laureate’s “life-size statue” will be temporarily on show “until the bombing of Gaza stops”, the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said on Thursday.

“He was an outspoken critic of the state of Israel’s policies and treatment of Palestine and Palestinians, which he likened to the policies and actions of apartheid South Africa,” the foundation said. The announcement came as lawyers for Pretoria presented their case at the UN’s top court in The Hague after the country lodged an urgent appeal to force Israel to “immediately suspend” military operations in Gaza.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause.

The country has cut off diplomatic ties with Israel over its response to the Hamas raids on Oct 7.

Tutu’s statue will be on display on the balcony of his foundation’s headquarters.

The 200-year-old site in central Cape Town, known as Old Granary Building, was rescued by Tutu after falling in disrepair, having previously housed a court and post office.

Tutu visited both Israel and Gaza “on a number of occasions, including as an emissary of the United Nations”, his foundation said in a joint statement with the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Intellectual Property Trust.

The peace icon “fervently believed that the greatest beneficiaries of a just dispensation for Palestine, besides Palestinians themselves, would be the citizens of Israel”, they added.

The Anglican archbishop emeritus, who died in 2021 aged 90, was regarded as a moral beacon in South Africa and was involved in numerous diplomatic peace efforts around the globe.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2024

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