ARCHBISHOP Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-apartheid activist, has passed away at the age of 90.
A statement from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, which confirmed Archbishop Tutu had died earlier today, described him as "a patriot without equal".
"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," said President Ramaphosa.
"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."
Born in October 7, 1931, Archbishop Tutu was a leading figure in the campaign to end apartheid in South Africa.
Following his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, he was named Bishop of Johannesburg, despite opposition from white Anglicans.
He then served as Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 until 1996.
He was the first black African to hold either position.
Following Nelson Mandela's release from prison and subsequent presidency, he appointed Archbishop Tutu as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1996.
Its aim was to record crimes relating to human rights violations during apartheid and offer reparation and rehabilitation to the victims, while in some cases offering amnesty to perpetrators.
"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," added President Ramaphosa.
"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.
"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."
Archbishop Tutu also spoke out on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, regularly calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
He was also a vocal supporter of gay rights, free trade with poorer countries and the need to do more to tackle HIV/Aids.