UPDATED: Archbishop Desmond Tutu is dead

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The South African Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu, is dead.

His death was announced Sunday by the South African president’s office.

The minister in the South African presidency, Mondli Gungubele, said in a statement that President Cyril Ramaphosa “expresses, on behalf of all South Africans, his profound sadness at the passing today, Sunday December 26, of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu”.

Mr Tutu, an Anglican archbishop, died in Cape Town at the age of 90.

“President Ramaphosa expresses his heartfelt condolences to MAM Leah Tutu, the Tutu family, the board and staff of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, the Elders and Nobel Laureate Group, and the friends, comrades and associates nationally and globally of the iconic spiritual leader, anti-apartheid activist and global human rights campaigner,” the minister said.

Desmond Tutu

Mr Tutu was an Anglican cleric and theologian, known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist.

He was the Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986 and then the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996, in both cases being the first black African to hold the position.

“President Ramaphosa expresses his heartfelt condolences to MAM Leah Tutu, the Tutu family, the board and staff of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, the Elders and Nobel Laureate Group, and the friends, comrades and associates nationally and globally of the iconic spiritual leader, anti-apartheid activist and global human rights campaigner,” the statement from Mr Ramaphosa’s office said.

According to Mr Ramaphosa, the passing of Mr Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in the nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who bequeathed a liberated South Africa.

“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,” he said.

Mr Ramaphosa said the deceased “was a man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid.”

He said Mr Tutu was 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.

He said as the chairperson of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Mr Tutu articulated the “universal outrage at the ravages of apartheid and touchingly and profoundly demonstrated the depth of meaning of ubuntu, reconciliation and forgiveness.”

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“He 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,” Mr Ramaphosa’s office said.

“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 non-sectarian, 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 soul mate 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.

“We pray that Archbishop Tutu’s soul will rest in peace but that his spirit will stand sentry over the future of our nation.”

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