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Ramaphosa urges journalists to strive for a free press in honour of Raymond Louw

President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa had lost a brave and principled journalist and a champion of press freedom.

A YouTube screengrab shows journalist Raymond Louw.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent condolences to the family and friends of veteran journalist Raymond Louw who died on Wednesday at the age of 93.

The president said the country had 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," said Ramaphosa.

“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,” the President added.

It was understood that Louw's wife died 24 hours prior to his death.

Ramaphosa said the most fitting tribute for Louw would be for young journalists to strive for a free press and accurate and balanced reporting.

Meanwhile, his friend and colleague Amina Frensee said Louw had left a great legacy.

“He was involved in so many initiatives and he was a founding member of many institutions.”

The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) earlier released a statement also mourning Louw's death.

“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," said fellow founding member Mary Papayya.

Oom Ray, as he was fondly known by Sanef members, won Sanef’s Stephen Wrottesley award three times for his tireless commitment to the organisation.

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”.

The multi-award-winning journalist kicked off his career in 1946 when he joined the Rand Daily Mail.

He served as the general manager of the South Africa Associated Newspapers three decades later.

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