Athletics South Africa (ASA) is mourning the death of Mluleki George who died on Wednesday.
George was an honorary board member of the organisation since 1995, although he never held an elected position at the organisation.
In a statement released to the media on Wednesday evening, ASA said that George would be missed.
"The veteran politician and sports administrator holds a special place in the history and hearts of ASA for his incredible and immeasurable role in the unification of the then warring factions namely the South Africa Athletics Congress and South African Amateur Athletics Union," said the statement.
"Following the formation of the National Sports Council (NSC) in 1987/8 after Mluleki George, Bill Jardin and others had returned from meeting the African National Congress in exile, the warring parties were brought to the table to form what is now Athletics South Africa in 1995.
"The NSC was formed to prepare unification of the individual sporting codes and lead them to the eventual lifting of the sporting boycott against South Africa primarily by the world bodies including World Athletics (called IAAF then), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and others. The NSC also carried the mandate for development and transformation.
"George, who was president of the NSC, was then assigned to monitor and nurse the new ASA as former foes began to find their footing as they began to work together.
"At a time when the IOC’s Juan Antonio Samaranch and the IAAF’s Primo Nebiolo were considering which body would accept South Africa first, for athletics the NSC gave the task to speed up compliance to George, Mthobi Tyamzashe, John Ncinane (deceased), Mvuzo Mbebe (deceased) and Bernard Bailey to assist. This race against time saw to ASA's participation at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992 and the World Championships in 1993," the statement concluded.
Aleck Skhosana, president of ASA called George a visionary.
“Athletics has lost a champion of our unity and renewed stability that ASA has enjoyed up to his passing away,” said Skhosana.
“This man was a visionary and an encyclopaedia of sports.
“It is for this reason that he was an Honorary Board Member of ASA. He is by right one of the founding fathers of the federation through his efforts. He is not to be forgotten for his role in athletics and sports in particular. We thank his family for this unifier and join them in mourning this great sportsman," added Skhosana.
- Athletics South Africa