President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his deep sadness at the passing of Dutch anti-apartheid activist and uMkhonto weSizwe fighter, Klaas de Jonge.
Mr De Jonge passed away yesterday on Friday, 5 May 2023, at the age of 85 following an extended illness.
Mr De Jonge and his life partner, Belgian citizen Helene Pastoors, who was imprisoned for her armed action against the apartheid regime, are remembered as distinguished liberation fighters on whom South Africa conferred the National Order of the Companions of OR Tambo.
President Ramaphosa extends his condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Klaas de Jonge who, under Dutch law, exercised his right to assisted death to end his battle against cancer.
Klaas de Jonge was a Dutch civil rights activist who became internationally known as an activist against apartheid in South Africa, when he was forced to spend two years as an asylum seeker at the Dutch Embassy in Pretoria in 1985.
From 1981 until 1985, De Jonge was a member of a ‘special operations unit’ of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed branch of the African National Congress (ANC), doing reconnaissance work and bringing in arms and explosives into South Africa.
This led to his arrest in 1985 by the South African Police; he managed to escape and acquired asylum in the Dutch embassy in Pretoria until – after two years – he was exchanged for the South African commander of the apartheid regime, Wynand du Toit, in 1987.
He continued to do work for MK and the Dutch Anti- Apartheid Movement until the end of 1989.
President Ramaphosa said: “At the very close of his life, Klaas de Jonge exercised the characteristic clarity and bravery with which he had conducted his multifaceted life, a great deal of which he dedicated to fighting for our liberation.
“He made critical and perilous sacrifices for the cause of freedom in South Africa – a struggle that took him to different parts of our continent where he established bonds of solidarity and built networks of armed resistance to apartheid and colonialism as part of a new generation of progressive Dutch internationalists.
“We remain appreciative of his heroic and unselfish contribution to our struggle and he will live on in the memory and values of our nation and our continent.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Presidency: Republic of South Africa.