Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2017. | Reuters (Mike Hutchings)

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and veteran of South Africa's struggle against white minority rule has died at the age of 90, the presidency reports.

In 1984 Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent opposition to apartheid. A decade later, he witnessed the ends of that regime and he chaired a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up to unearth atrocities committed during those dark days.

The outspoken Tutu was considered the nation's conscience by both black and white, an enduring testament to his faith and spirit of reconciliation in a divided nation.

Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the late 1990s and in recent years he was hospitalised on several occasions to treat infections associated with his cancer treatment.

"The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa," President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

"Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal."