Desmond Tutu, Retired Archbishop and Human Rights Activist, Released from Hospital

The Nobel Peace Prize winner worked for decades to end apartheid in his native South Africa.

Published Sep 19, 2016

Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu gestures during a press conference about the first 20 years of freedom in South Africa at St Georges Cathedral in Cape Town on April 23,2014.  Tutu today celebrated 20 years of freedom in South Africa as a "heck of an achievement", while confirming that he would not vote for the government in May 7 elections. Anglican archbishop emeritus Tutu, 82, is still regarded as a moral beacon for South Africa in the mould of the first post-apartheid president Nelson Mandela, who led the country from 1994 to 1999. AFP PHOTO/JENNIFER BRUCE        (Photo credit should read JENNIFER BRUCE/AFP/Getty Images) (Skoll Foundation/Flickr)
Image Via Skoll Foundation/Flickr

Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu, the South African archbishop who famously opposed apartheid in the 1970s and 1980s, was readmitted to a South African hospital on 17 September 2016 after he started showing signs of infection from surgery he underwent earlier in the month. He was discharged on 21 September 2016 and was reported to be resting at his home in South Africa.

The 84-year-old Nobel laureate had spent three weeks in a Cape Town hospital, up through 14 September 2016, to receive treatment for a recurring infection and had minor surgery to address the issue. But he was rehospitalized, his wife said, after the surgical wound itself showed signs of infection.  However, despite particularly pernicious rumors and death hoaxes on spoof and "satire" sites (see below), Tutu did not die on 19 September 2016.  Note the fake web address below:

Desmond Tutu hoax story

Tutu underwent hospital tests for a persistent infection in 2013, and a year later he canceled travel plans because of a long-running battle with prostate cancer, first diagnosed in 1997.

Tutu was born in Klerksdorp, South Africa, in 1931. He balked at the heavy segregation in which he was immersed, and was heavily influenced as a young person by a priest named Trevor Huddleston:

But I believe the most defining moment of my life occurred when I was about nine years old, outside the Blind Institute in Roodepoort where my mother was a domestic worker. We were standing on the stoep when this tall white man in a black cassock, and a hat, swept by. I did not know that it was Trevor Huddleston. He doffed his hat in greeting my mother.

I was relatively stunned at the time, but only later came to realise the extent to which it had blown my mind that a white man would doff his hat to my mother. It was something I could never have imagined. The impossible was possible.

I subsequently discovered that this was quite consistent with Trevor Huddleston’s theology: that every person is of significance, of infinite value, because they are created in the image of God.

Tutu became an Anglican priest in adulthood, and years after he first saw Huddleston, the two would work together to become leading voices in South Africa's anti-apartheid movement.

Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work, which likely paved the way for stronger international pressure for South Africa to end its system of apartheid.  In 1991, the system of enforced white supremacy and segregation that had characterized the country since the late 1940s began to crumble.

Brooke Binkowski is a former editor for Snopes.

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