Zuma sends condolences to Allister Sparks' family

Veteran journalist Sparks passed away yesterday in Johannesburg after suffering a heart attack.

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

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has sent his condolences to the family of late journalist and political commentator Allister Sparks.

Sparks passed away at Morningside clinic yesterday, in Johannesburg. He was 83.

He suffered a heart attack.

In a statement, Zuma says Sparks made his mark in the fight for a free South Africa and proved that the pen is mightier than the sword.

At the same time, South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has hailed Sparks as a fearless journalist who believed journalism could change society for the good.

His family says he had spent nearly two weeks in hospital and his condition appeared to be improving when he died of a reported heart condition.

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.

Sanef's Adriaan Basson says the highlight of his career was his time at the Rand Daily Mail where he was awarded the international editor of the year award in 1979.

"He was fierce in his belief that journalists should report equally on the good and the bad and tell the stories on normal people with the same zest as we'd chase corrupt politicians or business people.

"Allister loved journalism, he was always full of stories. He used to say that he covered former president DF Malan to Jacob Zuma."