Johannesburg – The Nelson Mandela Foundation has expressed sadness at the news that former sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile has died.
"We extend our sincere condolences to the Stofile family on his passing," the foundation's chief executive, Sello Hatang, said in a statement on Monday.
Hatang described Stofile as a "keen supporter" of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Stofile hosted the foundation in Germany when the movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom premiered in Berlin in January 2014 and, later that year, also supported the Mandela Dialogues on Memory Work in August.
"He was a distinguished freedom fighter and a loyal servant of our people. South Africa owes a debt of gratitude to Mr Stofile for his immense contribution to the freedom we enjoy today," said Hatang.
Parliament also sent its condolences to the family of Stofile.
"Reverend Stofile made a major contribution to our struggle for freedom, a democratic and non-racial South Africa and helped to build our society," it said in a statement.
"He was a key person in the establishment and development of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the Border region in the 1980s."
Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance said Stofile was a great ambassador for South Africa, not only as a politician and a man of the church, but also as a sportsperson.
"He played scrum-half and wing for Border, and was a loud voice in the campaign towards non-racial sports," the party said.
Stofile was elected to the national executive committee of the ANC in the 1990s and also served as the organisation's treasurer general.
In 1994‚ he became a MP as well as the first chief whip of the ANC in Parliament.
He later served as premier of the Eastern Cape and then as minister of sport and recreation in the third democratic administration.
He also recently served as ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany.
Stofile was born in Adelaide in the Eastern Cape on December 27, 1944. He studied theology at the University of Fort Hare, and obtained a master's degree from Princeton University in 1983. He joined the ANC in 1963.