Anti-apartheid icon and the retired Anglican archbishop, Desmond Tutu, was giving a blessing at the ceremony when his home was broken into for the second time in recent months.
Desmond Tutu was burgled yesterday while he was speaking at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.
He was among politicians, dignitaries, and 80,000 ordinary South Africans who attended the four-hour commemorative event at the FNB Stadium, and gave a blessing at the end of the service.
The thieves apparently targeted his home in the suburbs of Cape Town in the knowledge that he was more than 800 miles away at the ceremony in Johannesburg.
It is not yet known what was stolen, but South African police said the burglary happened between 7pm and 9pm on Tuesday evening. No arrests have yet been made.
“I can confirm that there was a burglary last night. We are not able to tell exactly what was stolen, the archbishop and his wife were not at home. The house was not pillaged.” his aide Roger Friedman said today.
Ceremony: The bishop with Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the UN, at Mandela’s memorial
Intimate: Mr Tutu kisses Mandela’s widow Graca Machel during the memorial service
Officers refused to confirm whether or not anything had been taken from the home of Mr Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
Mr Tutu, 82, gave the closing prayers at yesterday’s ceremony to the former president in Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium.
He urged South Africans to follow Mandela’s example, saying: ‘I want to show the world we can come out here and celebrate the life of an icon.’
Allies: Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela were closely associated in the fight against apartheid
Today, thousands of South Africans have been lining the streets of the capital Pretoria, as Mandela’s coffin was driven through to the government’s union buildings where he will lie in state for three days.
Mandela’s family and VIPs have this morning been to view his glass-topped coffin, before members of the public are allowed to file past to pay their respects over the coming days.
Mandela will be buried with a state funeral on Sunday.
It is the second time in three months that the former Archbishop of Cape Town has been the victim of thieves.
In the previous break-in, on August 7, thieves broke in to the house while the bishop and his wife Leah were sleeping, and took a number of small possessions.
Burglaries are fairly common in South Africa, where they are known as ‘home invasions’, due to the country’s extreme inequality and relatively weak government.