J. G. Strijdom
|5th Prime Minister of South Africa|
30 November 1954 – 24 August 1958
|Governor-General||Ernest George Jansen|
|Preceded by||Daniel François Malan|
|Succeeded by||Hendrik Verwoerd|
|Minister of Lands and Irrigation|
5 June 1948 – 30 November 1954
|Prime Minister||Daniel François Malan|
|Preceded by||Andrew Conroy|
|Succeeded by||Paul Sauer|
Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom
14 July 1893
Willowmore, Cape Colony
|Died||24 August 1958 (aged 65)|
Cape Town, Cape Province, Union of South Africa
|Resting place||Heroes' Acre, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa|
|Political party||National (1918–1935) (1948–58) |
Purified National (1935–1939)
Herenigde Nasionale (1940–1948)
(m. 1924; div. 1924)
Susan de Klerk
|Alma mater||Victoria College |
University of Pretoria
Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom (also spelled Strydom in accordance with Afrikaans spelling; 14 July 1893 – 24 August 1958), also known as Hans Strijdom and nicknamed the Lion of the North or the Lion of Waterberg, was the fifth prime minister of South Africa from 30 November 1954 to his death on 24 August 1958. He was an uncompromising Afrikaner nationalist and a member of the largest, baasskap (white supremacist) faction of the National Party (NP), who further accentuated the NP's apartheid policies and break with the Union of South Africa in favour of a republic during his rule.
He was born on the family farm of Klipfontein near Willowmore in the Cape Colony and trained as a lawyer at Victoria College (which later became the University of Stellenbosch) and the University of Pretoria.
His father Petrus Strijdom was a very well-known farmer and innovator in the Baviaanskloof where Strijdom was born. He owned three farms in the kloof of which the main farm was Sandvlakte on which the local school, church and shop was sited. He owned businesses and shops right down to the Gamtoos valley (birthplace of the well-known Khoi woman Saartjie Baartman). He also sold baboon fur and manufactured shoes and soap amongst other products.
Strijdom served in the German South West Africa campaign during World War I, as a member of the South African Medical Corps and, later, of Helgaardt's Scouts, where he reached the rank of corporal.
Strijdom later settled in Nylstroom, Transvaal. He identified strongly with this area and its people and became a local community leader amongst the Afrikaners. In 1929, Strijdom was elected to the House of Assembly as MP for Waterberg, representing the National Party (NP) headed by General J.B.M. Hertzog. Strijdom was also leader of the NP in Transvaal, by far the most important province of South Africa, and as such had a strong power base.
After the National Party of J.B.M. Hertzog merged with the South African Party of General Jan Smuts and formed the United Party (UP) during the World Economic Crisis in 1932, Strijdom was part of the break-away faction of the National Party, named the Gesuiwerde Nasionale Party (Purified National Party). Later, after the United Party was formed, the GNP became known as the (Reunited) National Party under the leadership of D. F. Malan. Malan, Strijdom and their followers distrusted Smuts and opposed his pro-British policy. Most of the National Party's MPs stayed with Hertzog, and as Strijdom was loyal to Malan, he was the only MP from Transvaal to support Malan's ideals.
Strijdom favoured the establishment of a republic, allegedly with himself as the first President of South Africa, but due to political controversy this step was not achieved until 1961, after his death, and then only with Governor-General Charles Swart assuming the position of symbolic State President over a Westminster system, as opposed to the executive presidency of the Boer Republics.
After the surprising victory of the National Party in 1948, won on a programme of implementing apartheid involving strict ethnic segregation and White minority rule, Malan became Prime Minister of South Africa and Strijdom became Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation. Although it was not one of the classic portfolios, it was apparently Strijdom's choice since he had a keen interest in agriculture and was a part-time farmer. Strijdom was not so pleased with the portfolio, although he was fond of farming. Malan gave him the portfolio because his young wife disliked Strijdom. Malan tried his best to ensure the more moderate Nicolaas Havenga succeeded him as Prime Minister, rather than Strijdom.
On 30 November 1954, Strijdom was elected leader of the National Party and thus the Prime Minister of South Africa after the resignation of Malan and against the latter's will; Malan had preferred the more moderate Havenga, Minister of Finance, as his successor. However, Strijdom was popular among NP party members and people trusted him to push things smoothly forward towards a republic, something Malan was considered to be only lukewarm about as it would enrage the United Kingdom and jeopardise South Africa's international standing. During Strijdom's term as Prime Minister, he began moves to sever ties with the British monarchy, and deepened the Afrikaner ascendency in South Africa, while strengthening the policy of apartheid, including through the Group Areas Development Act.
With regard to racial policies, he believed strongly in the perpetuation of White minority and thus Afrikaner rule through the removal of Cape Coloured voters from the common voters roll and put on a separate Coloured voters roll electing separate (White) representatives, which Malan initiated but could not push through, and was only accomplished in 1960, under Strijdom's successor. Strijdom was an open proponent of crude baaskap (white supremacy or white domination). The extended Treason Trial of 156 activists (including Nelson Mandela) involved in the Freedom Charter, happened during Strijdom's term in office. He also managed to further extend the NP's parliamentary seats during the general election in 1958. Strijdom's government also severed diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. The Suez Crisis gave a geopolitical victory, as severance of the passage through the war-ridden strait of Suez made Western oil transports dependent upon the Cape of Good Hope and thus the goodwill of the South African Navy, making the question of the regime's survival more precarious.
During his last year in office, Strijdom's weak health (possibly a case of cancer) led to long terms of absence. He died on 24 August 1958 in Cape Town and succeeded by Hendrik Verwoerd as head of the NP, securing the radical faction's prevalence towards a complete break with Britain and abolition of the Union in 1961. Strijdom is interred in the Heroes' Acre, a cemetery in Pretoria.
Strijdom was nicknamed "The Lion of the North", because of his aggression and forthrightness.
Strijdom married the actress Margaretha van Hulsteyn in 1924, but they divorced within a year. His second wife was Susan de Klerk, aunt of future President F W de Klerk. She bore Strijdom two children: Johannes and Estelle. His widow Susan died in 1999 and daughter Estelle (Crowson), in 2009.
There are still various monuments dedicated to Strijdom in South Africa. One monument in central Pretoria, which featured his bust, collapsed in 2001 injuring two people. In 2012, the city of Pretoria renamed 27 streets, which included renaming a street named after Strijdom to a new name in honor of Solomon Mahlangu. His house in Modimolle (formerly Nylstroom) is now a museum, which holds parts of the collapsed bust.
In Johannesburg, there is a suburb and a street named after Strijdom, although the spelling "Strydom" is also used, though a couple have already been renamed, one being Malibongwe Drive. In Weltevredenpark, a suburb of Roodepoort, there is a street named JG Strydom Road. Randburg also has a business district called Strijdompark named after him.
In Windhoek, then in South West Africa, the main airport was named J.G. Strijdom Airport following its opening in 1965. Following the country's independence as Namibia in 1990, it was renamed Hosea Kutako International Airport. And next to Hoedspruit there is a tunnel named after him called J.G Strijdom Tunnel next to the village called Leboeng.
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