President Jacob Zuma has expressed shock and sadness at the passing of Umkhonto we Sizwe struggle stalwart and former Member of Parliament‚ Mr Hermanus Loots‚ who was also known as James Stuart‚ who died on Monday.
“We have learned with shock and sadness the passing of our struggle veteran and freedom fighter‚ Mr Loots. We convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and the African National Congress. May his soul rest in peace‚” the President said.
Loots was a member of the ANC’s military wing‚ Umkhonto we Sizwe‚ from the early 1960s.
In 1968 he took part in the Wankie campaign‚ during which MK units under Chris Hani worked with the Zimbabwean People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) to infiltrate into the then Rhodesia. The first significant operation undertaken by MK‚ the guerrillas were eventually force to retreat after coming under heavy attack.
After a mutiny broke out in the ranks of MK in 1984‚ Loots was appointed to head a commission of inquiry into the disturbance‚ and the inquiry became known as the Stuart Commission.
He was responsible for political education in Alpha camp in Lusaka‚ Angola‚ and oversaw the organisation of the ANC’s archives.
In 1986‚ together with Oliver Tambo‚ Mac Maharaj‚ Hani and Thabo Mbeki‚ he attended one of the first meetings between white South African delegations and the ANC in Lusaka.
He served on the ANC’s National Executive Committee between 1985 and 1990.
Loots served as a Member of Parliament in the first non-racial parliament from 1994 to 1999 following the first democratic elections in 1994.
The ANC said on Monday it was saddened by his death‚ and said he was ranked among “the senior and highly experienced cadres of the ANC‚ both militarily and politically.