Tutu mourns anti-apartheid bishop

2014-08-18 15:52
Desmond Tutu (Picture: AFP)

Desmond Tutu (Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town – Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has described the late Bishop David Russell as an “outstanding” stalwart.”

Russell, an anti-apartheid activist and retired Anglican bishop of Grahamstown died in Cape Town on Sunday, aged 75.

He died of cancer.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said Russell had spoken fluent Xhosa and had been an "outstanding" stalwart. "When he became bishop of Grahamstown he proved to be a splendid trainer of bishops. All his suffragan bishops later became heads of dioceses, including the current archbishop of Cape Town," Tutu said.

"We thank God for this outstanding servant. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said: "With David Russell's death, an era passes for the church and its prophetic and courageous ministry, especially to the poorest of the poor.

"From the earliest days of his ministry as a priest, he was radical in his identification with the poor and oppressed. Steve Biko, with whom he worked closely, called him 'a friend, an equal... a comrade'."

Makgoba said Russell played an important role in the Eastern Cape in the 1970s in drawing attention to the plight of people forcibly removed from their homes under apartheid and dumped to starve in areas such as Dimbaza.

"Later, as a chaplain to migrant workers in Cape Town, he campaigned against the cruel removals, in the middle of winter, of families who defied the pass laws and came to Crossroads to live with their husbands and fathers," the archbishop said.

"When the apartheid government sent in bulldozers to destroy their shacks, he was willing to put his life on the line."

He also walked from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town to make a statement on the migratory labour system, Tutu said.

Armed struggle

Makgoba said an admirer of Russell had posted on social media platform Facebook last week, recalling the image of Russell lying "spread-eagled" in front of a bulldozer in Crossroads.

"When the government imposed a banning order on him, he defied it, breaking it in multiple ways to attend a meeting of the church's provincial synod and to motivate a resolution expressing the church's understanding of those who had resorted to armed struggle."

After Russell became the bishop of Grahamstown, he ordained the first woman priest in southern Africa and repeatedly challenged the church on theological grounds to reverse its opposition to blessing same-sex unions.

"He also challenged the democratically elected provincial government of the Eastern Cape for its failures in areas such as health and education," Makgoba said. "As one who served as Bishop David's suffragan bishop in Grahamstown and was mentored by him, I feel his loss keenly. Not only the church but the nation, which honoured him for his service with the Order of the Baobab in Silver, mourns this son of the soil."

Makgoba said on behalf of his family, the diocese of Cape Town, the synod of bishops and the broader church, they sent their condolences and prayers to his wife Dorothea and to his sons Sipho and Thabo.

"May this pastor, prophet, theologian and fierce fighter against injustice rest in peace until we meet again."

Family, friends and colleagues of Archbishop David Russell are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.

Read more on:    desmond tutu  |  thabo makgoba  |  george

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.