Photo: RODGER BOSCH / AFP
Photo: RODGER BOSCH / AFP
Thank HEAVENS for that: Reports of Desmond Tutu’s death have been greatly exaggerated on Wednesday – and the beloved Archbishop is still with us, despite a flurry of reports making claims to the contrary.
An account under the name of Bishop Stephen Moreo – with over 15 000 followers – Tweeted that Desmond Tutu had passed away aged 90, earlier this afternoon. The news spread like wildfire, as South Africans began to mourn the revered reverend online. However, a few things just weren’t adding up.
The account itself is unverified. There was no confirmation from the Desmond Tutu Foundation itself. The person posting the announcement has Tweeted just four times – including the post that sent social media into a frenzy.
Eventually, as suspicions arose and more people began to label the declaration as ‘fake news’, we got a confession from the account in question – an Italian journalist, for reasons as yet unknown, confirmed he was behind this hoax.
“The Tutu Legacy Foundation can confirm [that reports about the Archbishop’s death] are not true. It is fake news. Desmond Tutu, as well as Mrs Leah Tutu, are still with us. Thank you.”
A bit of critical thinking pulls these claims apart, but when confronted with such an emotional situation, some people were caught off guard by the announcement – only to quickly correct themselves with swift follow-up posts.
Huge apologies, I thought this account @BishopSMoreo was legit. It Tweeted that Tutu had died and an official statement would follow. If there’s nothing official, it could very well be untrue. Apologies ????— Nick Hedley (@nickhedley) October 20, 2021
I deleted the tweet about Desmond Tutu's death. Apparently the account I RTed after reading about it is not official and it may be a hoax. I see the credible journalist I saw the news from has also deleted his tweet. Hopefully it's NOT true and the Arch lives on!— Lauren Beukes (@laurenbeukes) October 20, 2021
Tutu managed to attend a special service at St George’s Cathedral a few weeks ago, where he once held the pulpit as South Africa’s first black Anglican archbishop. To celebrate his 90th birthday, the Arch made his first public appearance since May – when he was able to receive his COVID-19 vaccine.
He is still celebrated for his anti-apartheid activism, and in 1984, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Tutu’s commendable work at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and his tireless efforts for charity have made him a worldwide icon.