Message by President Jacob Zuma on the passing of Mike Louw

Monday, January 4, 2010

We learnt with great sadness of the passing on of Mr Mike Louw, former head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and later of the South African Secret Service (SASS).

As government, we mourn the passing on of a South African who played an unassuming but pivotal role in our country's transition to democracy.

At a time when many of his contemporaries remained determined to defend the immoral apartheid system, Mike Louw was prepared to reach out to those who even then were regarded as the enemy.

I can recall quite clearly our first meeting, under conditions of utmost secrecy in a foreign country, meeting as representatives of forces that were engaged in a bitter struggle against each other.

Though we came from greatly different backgrounds, socially and politically, we were nevertheless all South Africans, seeking a resolution to a conflict that had engulfed our country for decades. The recognition of our common desire for peace in the country we both called home was a critical factor in the progress of those discussions and in the process towards the initiation of meaningful negotiations, which led to peace and democracy in our country.

This desire remains at the core of our common nationhood, and our shared determination that we build this nation together.

It was in precisely this spirit that Mike undertook the responsibility of contributing to building the intelligence institutions of the new democratic state; institutions that would truly serve the people of this country and protect and uphold its Constitution.

This was a patriotic duty for which he deserves unflinching recognition.

We extend our deepest condolences to the Louw family, friends and colleagues, and particularly to his wife, Marie, and the children. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

Mike Louw will be remembered for his courage and foresight at a crucial moment in our history.

He will be remembered too for his contribution to building the new democratic state.

He will be remembered as a South African patriot, and as a man who knew when the time was right to put the country first, over and above all other interests.

He is one of those remarkable South Africans that we will always remember and whose contribution to the smooth transition to freedom and democracy must never be forgotten.

Hamba kahle, Mike!

Jacob G. Zuma

Issued by the Presidency
Union Buildings, Pretoria