Press statement: TAC mourns the passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Johannesburg, 26 December 2021 – The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) joins the country and the world in mourning the passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who passed away today at the age of 90. While he wore many hats throughout his life: teacher, Priest, Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Nobel Prize recipient, honorary member of The Elders, the leitmotif was his unwavering values, steadfastness and the willingness to sacrifice needed to fight against oppression.

TAC will also remember him fondly for his passionate advocacy for health. Anele Yawa, the TAC General Secretary said of Bishop Tutu, “he was an activist who fought against the evil system of Apartheid when it was dangerous to speak out against it. Bishop Tutu’s work supporting the fight against AIDS denialism is also a reflection of the principled stance he had, no matter the personal cost.”

Speaking in 2014, Desmond Tutu said “HIV/AIDS brought out the worst and best in us. Political paralysis caused delay and confusion. Death blighted the land. But citizen activism…restored hope and dignity. Today in South Africa millions of people receive ARV medicines and AIDS is no longer the cause of fear, darkness and the destruction of life that it once was.”

“But my message to you is that AIDS is not over. Thousands still die and are newly infected. AIDS is not over while one person still needs ARV medicines or dies of Tuberculosis. It is not over until the last new HIV infection. It is not over until the evils that drive HIV, like rape and violence against women and children, are defeated. There is still a long road ahead.”

Sadly, his words are still relevant today.

Sibongile Tshabalala, the TAC National Chairperson said, “his death represents a moment of rupture. A passing of the baton to younger generations. We would do well to continue his legacy of speaking truth to power and working at community level to ensure social justice.”

Lala ngokuthula Archbishop Tutu.

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Ngqabutho Mpofu (Advocacy and Communications Manager): 072 225 9675 or via email –

Xabisa Qwabe (Communications Officer): +27 81 264 3485 or via email –