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Veteran journalist Allister Sparks dies at 83

Allister Sparks gained popularity as editor of South Africa’s 'Rand Daily Mail' in the 1970s.

FILE: Veteran journalist Allister Sparks. Picture: Who’s Who.

JOHANNESBURG - Veteran journalist Allister Sparks has died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 83.

His family says he died at the Morningside clinic this morning.

Sparks gained popularity as editor of South Africa's _Rand Daily Mail in _the 1970s, when the paper broke the so-called "Mulder-gate" scandal.

According to reports, Sparks had spent nearly two weeks in hospital.

He made headlines last year when he described apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd as one of the many "smart" politicians he had met during his 64-year long career.

In response to the criticism he said that while Verwoerd's policies were monstrous, the politician built the National Party in an extraordinarily effective way.

"What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to say he was dumb or stupid? He wasn't stupid."