Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu of South Africa has died in the early hours of today at the age of 90.
Tutu was famous for his anti-apartheid struggles and was a human rights activist of note, which earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
Tutu, a veteran of South Africa’s struggle against white minority rule, died on Sunday after a long battle with prostate cancer.
In a statement on behalf of the Tutu family, the Office of the Archbishop said he “died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town this morning,” without revealing more details.
“Ultimately, at the age of 90, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town this morning,” Dr Ramphela Mamphele, acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust and Co-ordinator of the Office of the Archbishop, said in the statement.
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa who also confirmed Tutu’s death in a message, 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 South Africa.”
He “distinguished himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights”, Ramaphosa added.
Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and, in recent years, was hospitalised on several occasions to treat infections associated with his treatment.
Tutu was often referred to as South Africa’s moral conscience and the great reconciler of a nation divided by decades of racist politics.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his non-violent opposition to apartheid and a decade later, he witnessed the end of that regime and he chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up to unearth atrocities committed during the segregation period.
Tutu led numerous marches and campaigns to end apartheid from St George’s front steps, and as a result it became known as the “People’s Cathedral” and a powerful symbol of democracy, according to the local government.
Tutu was a longtime friend of Nelson Mandela and lived for a time on the same street in the South African township of Soweto, Vilakazi Street, the only one in the world to host two Nobel Peace Prize winners.