Aggrey Klaaste, a veteran antiapartheid journalist, died yesterday in Johannesburg. He was 64.
Mr. Klaaste, who was the editor of South Africa's leading black daily newspaper, The Sowetan, from 1988-2002, died from a lung infection, his family said in a statement.
President Thabo Mbeki said Mr. Klaaste's ''brave stand against the tyranny of apartheid in the days of repression of blacks inspired."
Mr. Klaaste ''represented the established reality of black intellectual achievement, many years before the arrival of the democracy for which he struggled," Mbeki said in a statement.
One of eight children of a clerk for a gold mining company, Mr. Klaaste grew up in a suburb of Johannesburg that was declared ''whites only" when South Africa's apartheid laws were enacted in 1960. In 1958, Mr. Klaaste graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand. Two years later blacks were banned from most South African universities, an exclusion that was lifted with the end of apartheid in 1994.
After college, Mr. Klaaste went to work for Drum, a magazine that was at the time considered the voice of South Africa's oppressed black majority. He also wrote for The World newspaper, which was then banned, and he was jailed for nine months in 1977.
Mr. Klaaste eventually settled at The Post, which later changed its name to The Sowetan. Named after the country's largest black township, the newspaper focused on the lives and dreams of millions of disenfranchised blacks and called for political change.
After apartheid ended, Mr. Klaaste, a fierce believer in reconciliation between blacks and whites, used his political columns in the Sowetan to call on everyone, from politicians to ordinary working men, to take responsibility for building a free South Africa.
Mr. Klaaste's work earned him many admirers, including Nelson Mandela, South Africa's former president, who visited the editor shortly after being released from prison in 1990. Mr. Klaaste, who was also chairman of the Johannesburg Tourism Company, is survived by his wife and son.