The Presidential Years

Politician and military commander. Joined the Union Defence Force in 1956 and by 1977 was chief of the army in South Africa. Along with fellow retired army generals, he formed the Afrikaner Volksfront in 1993. Before South Africa’s first democratic elections he was thought to have amassed a force of between 50,000 and 60,000 to prepare for war to stop the democratic transition. In March 1994 he led a military effort to protect the head of the Bophuthatswana homeland against a popular coup. He then split from the Volksfront and cofounded the Freedom Front of which he became leader. His decision to participate in South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994 is credited with the prevention of loss of life. Retired in 2001 and handed over leadership of the Freedom Front to Pieter Mulder.