Louw was the former editor of the Rand Daily Mail and chairperson of the South African chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa and vice-president of PEN SA.
He died within 24 hours of the death of his wife, Jean, who did not recover from a fall.
South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) executive director Kate Skinner told eNCA that Louw had died at 02:00 on Wednesday, following a surgical procedure.
“He had an unbelievable career that stretches back decades, and did incredible work for a range of organisations. He was a tireless member of the Freedom of Expression Institute, he was a stalwart for the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, he sat on the executive committee of the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition. He won countless awards – nationally and internationally.
“He also did a lot of legislation and policy work and was committed to the Promotion of Access to Information Act and did a lot of work on the protection of journalists’ sources.
“He was in fact called ‘Mister Press Freedom’,” said Skinner.
Sanef issued a statement following Louw’s passing.
“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’,” Sanef said.
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.
“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.”
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, according to the statement.
Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase said: “We will miss his editorial wisdom, his passion for justice and his unstoppable energy. Even in retirement, Raymond continued to contribute immensely to Sanef. He was pained by continued attacks on journalists and attempts to muzzle the media by various actors. He was a wealth of wisdom and always a pillar of strength.”
Sanef sent condolences to the family – both for the death of Louw and his wife.
According to SouthAfrica.co.za, Louw won numerous awards for his work, including the Pringle Medal for services to journalism by the SA Society of Journalists, the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s Media Freedom Award 2005, the Mondi-Shanduka Newspaper Lifetime Achiever Award in 2007 and the International Press Institute award for Press Freedom Campaigning in Vienna, Austria in 2010.
In 2012, he received an honorary doctorate of literature from Rhodes University, and in 2015, an honorary doctorate of literature from the University of Witwatersrand.
Many former colleagues and friends took to social media to convey their condolences.
"Censorship of anything at any time in any place on whatever pretence has always been and always will be the last resort of the boob and the bigot." ~ Eugene O'Neill