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Presidency announces Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 90, has died

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu has died, the presidency announced on Sunday morning.

Tutu, the last surviving laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize in the country, died in Cape Town, minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele said in a statement.

He was 90.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed heartfelt condolences to his wife Leah Tutu, the entire family, among others.

Ramaphosa said: “The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated SA.

“Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal; a leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead.

“A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world.

“As Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he articulated the universal outrage at the ravages of apartheid and touchingly and profoundly demonstrated the depth of meaning of ubuntu, reconciliation and forgiveness.”

He said Tutu “placed his extensive academic achievements at the service of our struggle and at the service of the cause for social and economic justice the world over”.

“From the pavements of resistance in SA to the pulpits of the world’s great cathedrals and places of worship, and the prestigious setting of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Arch distinguished himself as a nonsectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights.

“In his richly inspiring yet challenging life, Desmond Tutu overcame tuberculosis, the brutality of the apartheid security forces and the intransigence of successive apartheid regimes. Neither Casspirs, teargas nor security agents could intimidate him or deter him from his steadfast belief in our liberation.

“He remained true to his convictions during our democratic dispensation and maintained his vigour and vigilance as he held leadership and the burgeoning institutions of our democracy to account in his inimitable, inescapable and always fortifying way.

“We share this moment of deep loss with Mam Leah Tutu, the Archbishop’s soulmate and source of strength and insight, who has made a monumental contribution in her own right to our freedom and to the development of our democracy,” Ramaphosa said.

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