0835 GMT January 20, 2022
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and veteran of South Africa's struggle against white minority rule, died on Sunday at the age of 90, the presidency said.
In 1984 Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent opposition to apartheid. A decade later, he witnessed the end of that regime and chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up to unearth atrocities committed during those dark days.
Tutu was considered the nation's conscience by both black and white, an enduring testament to his faith and spirit of reconciliation in a divided nation, Reuters wrote.
He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and in recent years was hospitalized on several occasions to treat infections associated with his cancer treatment.
"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," President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
"Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal."
Tutu preached against the tyranny of the white minority but his fight for a fairer South Africa never ended, calling the black political elite to account with as much feistiness as he had the white Afrikaners.
"Ultimately, at the age of 90, he died peacefully at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town this morning," Dr Ramphela Mamphele, the acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust and Coordinator of the Office of the Archbishop, said in a statement on behalf of the Tutu family.
Dubbed "the moral compass of the nation", his courage in defending social justice, even at great cost to himself, always shone through. He often fell out with his erstwhile allies at the ruling African National Congress party over their failures to address the poverty and inequalities that they promised to eradicate.
Tutu travelled tirelessly throughout the 1980s, becoming the face of the anti-apartheid movement abroad while many of the leaders of the rebel ANC such as Nelson Mandela were behind bars.
Although he was born near Johannesburg, he spent most of his later life in Cape Town and led numerous marches and campaigns to end apartheid from St George's front steps, which became known as the "People's Cathedral" and a powerful symbol of democracy.
Tutu was also an outspoken critic of Israeli atrocities against Palestinians.
In 2014, he compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians to the apartheid regime in South Africa.
"I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces," he said in a statement at the time.
"Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government."