Veteran journalist and editor Raymond Louw. File photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended his condolences to the family and friends of veteran journalist and editor, Raymond Louw who died on Wednesday morning.

Louw, 92, died at a Johannesburg hospital, within 24 hours of his wife’s death.

Louw was a journalist, editor and media commentator. He was the winner of numerous national and international media freedom awards. In 2011 he was named a “World Press Freedom Hero” by the Vienna-based International Press Institute. The award acknowledged his “commitment to press freedom and his outspoken defence of journalist rights”.

“With the passing of Mr Louw, the country has lost a brave and principled journalist and a champion of press freedom. Throughout his illustrious career, he reminded us of the critical importance of media freedom to the health of our democracy,” Ramaphosa said.

“The loss of this respected media stalwart is all the sadder that it comes a day after the passing of his wife, Jean. I offer my deepest sympathies to the family,” he added.

Louw served as deputy chairperson of the Media Freedom subcommittee of the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef). He was also a mentor to a number of young journalists who went on to take up senior positions in the local media industry.

“The most fitting tribute to Mr. Louw would be that we strive to uphold the principles he held dear: a commitment to a free press, and to accurate, balanced and fair reporting,” said Ramaphosa.

In a statement earlier on Wednesday, the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) said it was saddened by the death of Louw and his wife Jean.

Sanef founder member Mary Papayya said: “He was with us from the beginning as Sanef and made significant contributions to the call to end punitive legislation against media freedom. He was always at the round tables on these discussions and deliberations. He was passionate about access to information and the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) and ensuring the protection of journalist sources.”

She added: “We have lost a giant among us in the media industry. His role within Sanef and the media was priceless. He was a mentor to so many. He was our institutional memory on all fronts.”

African News Agency (ANA)