The finance minister of the transitional government between 1992 and 1994 Derek Keys died on Monday.
The 85-year-old was part of former president FW de Klerk's team.
"Everyone knew him as extremely clever," said Sheila Camerer, a retired politician who was also part of De Klerk's team as deputy justice minister.
"He was a brilliant guy. Everyone agreed that he came from the private sector to help the transition along."
According to Camerer, Keys reached out to the ANC's financial team, former South African Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni and former finance minister Trevor Manuel.
Together they sketched out scenarios for the transition into democracy, particularly from a financial and economic perspective.
Camerer said one of the scenarios, known as "flight of the flamingoes", was what government was told to aspire to.
She also recalled that Keys used to play the card game bridge and was fond of spending time in Munich.