Anti-Apartheid Activist

Jacqueline Daane Van Rensburg ( OLB )



  “A summary of her activities”

·        1956 Somerset-West: Her first encounter with the police; became job- and homeless by adopting a ‘mute’ black boy of six to give him a better future by sending him to the school for the deaf in Worcester.

·        1957 Claremont: Several encounters with the police protesting against their brutality.

·        1958 Swellendam: Filed a complaint against a police officer for the battering of an innocent coloured man. This made it impossible to stay and had to move again.

·        1959 Claremont: Warning from the police because she assisted an Indian person who was ran over by a car.

·        1960 Wetton: Warned at gunpoint for letting black people make use of her water tap during their march to Cape Town.

·        1960 Cape Town: Went into voluntary exile and settled in the Netherlands.

          1966 The Hague: The first Anti-Apartheid movement was lead by the Rev. Buskes and Margaret Klompé of which she became one of the first members.

·        1967 The Hague: Went to New Zealand and got involved with two Anti-Apartheid movements, namely C.A.R.E and H.A.R.T.

·        5 March 1973 Rotorua: Speech at the Rotorua Rotary Club for support to stop the 1970 Springbok Tour to New Zealand.

·        7 May 1973 Rotorua: Received letter from the then Prime Minister of New Zealand Mr. Norman Kirk acknowledging that he received her request to stop the 1970 Springbok Tour.

·        18 June 1976 Helmond, Netherlands: Received letter from the then Prime Minister of New Zealand Mr. Muldoon, who intended to reverse the sporting ties with South Africa.

·        3 July 1976 Helmond: “Kortzichtig” a newspaper article she wrote that was chosen as one of the best letters in “De Volkskrant,” a published Nationally daily paper.

·        18 November 1982 Helmond: Article in a national newspaper about her adoption scheme, which she had already started in New Zealand, that grew to be a world-wide support for the people in the so-called “Homelands.”

·        29/30 March 1988 Helmond: Obituary in the local newspaper of the brutal death of her dearest friend Dulcie September.

·        30 March 1988 Helmond: Newspaper article in reaction to her obituary in the local newspaper. To this she was called on the phone by an unknown person who told her that she is next on the death list.

·        5 May 1988 Helmond: Article in local newspaper about a local primary school taking action against Apartheid where she was the guest speaker.

·        Juli/August 1990 Helmond: Article in the “LOTA” bulletin about her activities against Apartheid.

·        1 April 1988 Helmond: Letter from unknown person in support of her activities.

·        1 April 1988 Helmond: Letter from Marina Cleven in support of her activities.

·        1 April 1988 Helmond: Letter from the Dutch Communist Party, signed by ten members, in support of her activities.

·        21 May 2001 Helmond: Affidavit from Member of Parliament Mr. Reg. September.

·        28 June 2001 Helmond: Affidavit from Deputy High Commissioner in London Mr. George Johannes.

·        3 February 2004 Kenwyn, South Africa: Affidavit from Dr. James Marsh.

·        4 April 2004 Gordon’s Bay, South Africa: Her arrival back home after 44 years.

Her contacts with people from different political parties, National and International, and Anti-Apartheid movements were amongst those for whom she would speak at Anti-Apartheid rallies and radio broadcasts, especially since she was one of the very few "White South Africans" who took a stand and knew what she was talking about.
Her South African contacts were far from few. Just to name a few;
Francis Baard,
Lillian Ngoyi and
Dora Tamana would supply her with the information she needed of what was really going on in South Africa.

Her adoption scheme grew to become a World Wide Organisation which the South African Government blacklisted because of the amount of support the people in the 'Homelands' were getting from all over the world.

On 27 March 2009 she received the Order of Luthuli in Bronze from His Exellency, President K. P. Mothlante for her courageous stand against the apartheid government and her tireless campaigning for the liberation of South Africa on International platforms.

Flint stone:
1. Isandlwana Hill – depicts peace and tranquility after the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879.
2. The South African Flag – represents the dawn of freedom and democracy.
3. Technology – emphasises the development of high-tech products.
African Clay Pot:
4. Two horns – espouse his vision for a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.
5. The leopard pattern – represents Chief Luthuli’s trademark headgear.
6. Beads – decoration symbolises the beauty of Africa and the African bull represents the empowerment and prosperity of the African people.
From left to right:
Neck badge
Lapel rosette

Wearing of the Order:
The insignia of Category I, Category II and Category III shall be worn pendant from a ribbon worn around the neck, while the miniature shall be worn on the left breast. The lapel badges of the respective categories shall be worn on the left lapel of the jacket and in the case of females, as a brooch.


As I am watching another milestone in our young democratic history, the right to host the World Cup Soccer Championships in 2010, I can’t help but think back to so many years ago.

I can remember being outside picking figs when the butcherie's young delivery boy returned from his ‘interview’ at the police station, bloodied, clothes torn and biting fiercely on his lip in an effort not to cry he stood there and I felt equally bewildered. I called my husband and he took the boy home.

The ‘interview’ was necessary since one of the white women where he had delivered meat had called the police and told them that he had stolen her diamond ring she left in the kitchen. Of course in those days, the late fifties, white policeman had their own version of what an interview was and mostly conducted such with a baton, a whip and much swearing.

I can’t exactly say what made me do what I did, but I marched to the police station and demanded to know the truth and nothing but the truth. It took a while for the policemen present to realize that I was taking it up for the boy but finally the one who did the ‘interview’ came out from the backroom.

“ What do you want missies” he asked

“I want to know why you had beaten up the butcher boy,” I answered

“We thought he had stolen the ladies ring, but it turned out that she didn’t leave it in the kitchen but in the bathroom, so everything is fine.”

“No it’s not”, I replied, “ you had accused the boy of theft, beaten him half to death and now you pretend that everything is fine. I’m not satisfied with that and I want to know what you are going to do about it”.

“Do about it?” he asked in amazement. “I am not going to do anything about it. The bloody ‘hotnot’ got a beating and finish en ‘klaar’.” He started to turn around to walk away when I said:  ” I’m going to press charges against you.”

The icy silence that met my statement and the six pairs of eyes watching me told me that I have finally crossed the line. I have committed myself and there was no way back. A white woman just didn’t bother herself with such things.

It was not my first confrontation with the police, but it would be my last. Of course so much pressure were put on the boys parents that they begged me to drop my charge and when I was told in no uncertain manner that I was heading for prison and my husband, being foreign, for deportation, and after much discussion we left South Africa and my life of anti-apartheids activist took off.

Europe in the early sixties was just starting to wake up to what apartheid was all about. The idea of racial segregation was alien to them and that made the task of educating them even harder.

The Rivonia trial and the South African Government made sure that all those opposing apartheid were labeled either terrorist or communist and this was a very clever thing to do because the whole of Europe was terrified of communism in particular.

But we continued and more and more people joined us in our efforts, politicians steered clear from us, except left-wingers who were ready to listen.

There was nothing heroic about what we did, continuously banging on doors that stayed closed, but we kept banging and slowly they started to open.  

Faith brought me to New Zealand at the time of a major sporting war. Would there be a Rugby tour or not. No one thought we could do it, but we stopped the tour.

I can still remember being busy in the kitchen when the phone rang.

“Its Norm Kirk here, is that you Jacqui”

“Yes Prime Minister this is me”

“Jacqui, we have just reached our decision and we want you to be the first person to know what it is. Thanks to you and all those like you who have put up such a fight, I am delighted to tell you there will be no tour.”

He hung up and I stood there and cried, we have won a little victory, and that later others would take all the credit didn’t bother me, by that time I was used to that part of the human character.  

We returned to Holland and my ‘work’ continued. Many South Africans were receiving parcels and financial help much to the annoyance of the established anti-apartheids groups who were certain that humanitarian help would prevent the people from rising up against their oppressors. They were wrong of course, here at home more and more people were standing up and were willing to face and challenge the brutal racist regime that have kept them down trodden for so long.

Things changed, now it was fashionable to be against apartheid. Soccer players would dedicate their prizes to Nelson Mandela, but didn’t join the struggle. Politicians unlocked their doors and actually invited us in.

Then came the memorable day that together with so many others I watched Nelson Mandela walk out of the prison gates. I watched without emotion, I gave my pre-arranged radio interview, went to the town square to hold my speech, watched as the black green and yellow balloons floated away in the late afternoon sun.

I returned home and started to clear my desk. Forty years of my life was given to the cause, there were the bomb scares, the persistent wariness for letter and parcel bombs, there was the loss of a child, who didn’t want to live in a South African dominated home any longer, and there was the realization that so many dreams that were put on the backburner would never be realized I expected no gratitude for that is not why I did what I did, besides who knows why people make the choices they do.  We are what we are.

The many foot soldiers like I, were responsible for breaking down the walls of racism, we ploughed the land with our bare hands and we planted the seeds of democracy. Now it is up to you to continue and make democracy thrive. Don’t sell our land to the money hungry; remember this land is given to us for safe keeping for our children’s children. It is not ours to do with it what we please.

I will sit on my ‘stoep’ and watch the process and deep in my heart I know that all is and all will be well, and you have my blessings.

I am dedicating this to my dear friend the late Dulcie September, she never saw democracy dawn on South African soil, she gave her live for your freedom, don’t forget her.

I am not the type to blow my own horn, so I will leave it as it is but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be watching.

Gordon’s Bay, 27 October 2004

Jacqueline Daane Van Rensburg


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