Lapsley defends Tutu’s comments

Father Michael Lapsley says comments made by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu were a cry of pain.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The priest whose book launch saw Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu compare South Africa's democracy to a "nightmare" has defended him, saying the comments were a cry of pain.

On Monday, Father Michael Lapsley launched his book Redeeming the Past at District Six Museum's Homecoming Centre in Cape Town.

Tutu was a keynote speaker at the launch and shocked the audience with his comments.

The Archbishop questioned whether South Africans treasured and appreciated the bloodshed so they could enjoy the freedom they have today.

"For eighteen years I've been begging. Let us oldies go to our grave smiling. Do we remember the cost of freedom? Do we really?"

He praised Lapsley for his contribution to freedom and said many could learn from him.

Tutu spoke about poverty in the country and said it was unbelievable learners were still attending schools without classrooms.

Tutu also spoke about the Marikana shooting two weeks ago, which saw police gun down 34 protesting miners.

He said the bloodbath reminded him of events under the apartheid government.

"[This happens] in 2012? In a democracy? In a new South Africa?"

Lapsely said Tutu was pleading for peace in the country, as he nears the end of his life.

And he says the country is in the situation it is in because of the timing of the ending of apartheid.

"We became a democratic society… when greed was having its day."

Lapsely shared Tutu's thoughts on Marikana and said citizens of South Africa need to undertake some introspection.

"We need to urgently have a national conversation about our woundedness."

Lapsley lost both arms and sight in one eye during the fight against apartheid.

The Redeeming the Past author said his book reflected his life journey and featured voices of people who also suffered under apartheid.

The Archbishop was the centre of much controversy when he declined to speak at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit because former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was also addressing the event.

Tutu boycotted the event because of Blair's involvement in the war on Iraq.