President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed “profound sadness” at the death of anti-Apartheid struggle icon and social justice champion Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Tutu, who was the country’s last surviving laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as an anti-Apartheid activist, passed away at the age of 90, in Cape Town, on Sunday.

“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.

“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,” President Ramaphosa said in a statement on Sunday.

The President said Tutu’s commitment to the attainment of liberation despite illness and the “brutality of the Apartheid security forces” was never shaken and he praised Tutu’s contribution to South Africa’ s painful Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“From the pavements of resistance in South Africa 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.

“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,” President Ramaphosa said.

The President highlighted that even upon the attainment of the country’s democracy, Tutu continued to show “compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world”.

“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,” he said.

The President expressed his condolences to the Tutu family.

“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.

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

Source: South African Government News Agency