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Anglican bishop David Russell dies

Russell has been described as a courageous veteran in the church's struggle against apartheid.

Anglican bishop David Russell has died aged 75. Picture: UCT.

CAPE TOWN - Anti-apartheid activist and retired Anglican bishop David Russell has died.

Russell has been described as a courageous veteran in the church's struggle against apartheid.

The 75-year-old yesterday succumbed to cancer in Cape Town.

Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba says Russell played an important in drawing attention to the plight of people forcibly removed from their homes under apartheid laws in the Eastern Cape in the 1970's.

"With David Russell's death, an era passes for the Church and its prophetic and courageous ministry, especially to the poorest of the poor," said a statement by Makgoba.

After Russell became the bishop of Grahamstown, he ordained the first woman priest in South Africa.

He repeatedly challenged the church on theological grounds to reverse its opposition to blessing same-sex unions.

Russell also tackled the provincial government of the Eastern Cape for its failures in areas such as health and education.

"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," said Makgoba.

He extended his condolences to Russell's wife, Dorothea and his sons, Sipho and Thabo.

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

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