Archbishop Emeritius Desmond Tutu is healing well after being admitted to hospital and treated with antibiotics for an infection‚ his daughter said on Tuesday.
Tutu was readmitted to hospital on Saturday due to an infection developing at the site of an earlier surgery.
The Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu van Furth‚ his daughter‚ said: “He’s healing very well and the doctors are very pleased with his progress.”
He underwent a surgical procedure earlier this month to address the cause of recurring infections related to past treatment for prostate cancer.
Social media was flooded late on Monday with rumours of his death which resulted in a flurry of panicked telephone calls to his family from relatives and friends from around the world.
“Although the infection was unwelcome it wasn’t completely unexpected because previous therapies that he’s had for prostate cancer have retarded his healing‚” his daughter said.
“But due to excellent home nursing care‚ meaning my mum‚ the infection was spotted early and he was able to begin antibiotic therapy immediately. The doctors have identified the exact microbe and so he’s on the right antibiotic and he’s responding to the treatment very well and we anticipate that he will be home again soon.”
Commenting on her father’s rumoured death‚ she said: “He missed the storm. He wasn’t on his iPad at the time so I don’t think that has really affected him adversely.”
She said the hoax message was “incredibly unkind not only to the family but to people around the world who really do love and care and support the Arch”.
“It’s very distressing to hear that kind of news over Twitter‚ and particularly for family members to receive that kind of news over social media. It’s not the way that that news would be conveyed‚” she said.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was among those who visited Tutu in hospital.
“The Archbishop was in good spirits and was looking forward to returning home soon‚” Ramaphosa’s statement read.
“I was encouraged to see the Archbishop in high spirits‚ sharing light moments with his family and friends. He was jovial as usual‚ engaging on subjects ranging from education to politics.”
Meanwhile the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Tuesday noted an “alarming trend by fake news websites to publish inaccurate information under the guise of news”.
This included a false story about the well-being of Tutu that caused panic.