City of Cape Town


And, relax: Reports of Desmond Tutu’s death are FALSE

Panic over: Desmond Tutu remains alive and well as of Wednesday 20 October – but where did rumours of his death actually come from?

City of Cape Town


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.

Is Desmond Tutu dead? No, he isn’t…

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.

Death rumours spark panic

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.

  • Shortly afterwards, The Tutu Legacy Foundation confirmed that the nonagenerian is ‘still with us’.

“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.”

Hoax account spreads rumour of Desmond Tutu’s death

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.

The Archbishop at 90

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.