President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his deep sadness at the passing of Dutch anti-apartheid activist and uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) fighter, Klaas de Jonge.
De Jonge passed away on Friday, 5 May 2023, at the age of 85 following an extended illness.
“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.”
The former freedom fighter 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, the Presidency said, De Jonge was a member of a “special operations unit” of 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, managing 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.
His life partner, Belgian citizen Helene Pastoors, was also imprisoned for her armed action against the apartheid regime.
The President’s Office said the couple is remembered as distinguished liberation fighters on whom South Africa conferred the National Order of the Companions of OR Tambo.
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.”
President Ramaphosa said the country remains appreciative of his heroic and unselfish contribution to the struggle.
“He will live on in the memory and values of our nation and our continent.” – SAnews.gov.za
Source: South African Government News Agency