Human rights activist Klaas de Jonge dies at 85
Human rights activist Klaas de Jonge, best known for his fight against apartheid in South Africa, passed away on Friday at the age of 85. This was reported among others by Marlou van den Berge, who made a documentary film about him, and his biographer Jenne Jan Holtland. In the last years of his life, De Jonge suffered from metastatic prostate cancer.
Born in 1937, the anti-apartheid activist smuggled weapons for the South African organization African National Congress (ANC). In 1985, he was arrested for this, after which he fled to the Dutch embassy in Pretoria. At the reception, plainclothes officers hauled him away, but under pressure from the Netherlands he was returned to the embassy. It was not until more than two years later that he was released as part of a complicated prisoner exchange.
In 1988, De Jonge contracted an eye infection that left him blind, possibly from a poisoned jacket. The activist suspected that the South African apartheid regime was behind it, but the incident was never resolved. After apartheid was abolished, De Jonge did research for the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and became involved with the anti-apartheid movement in the Netherlands, the NOS wrote. In addition, he was also working with several non-governmental organizations, such as the Penal Reform International.
"'Doing nothing is also a choice,” Klaas used to say, a quote from Sartre. That applied to his own life as well. If you can do something, you should do it. And Klaas did it," Marlou van den Berge reported on her website. The documentary she made, Klaas de Jonge, the Price of Freedom, can be seen on May 25 at 10:10 p.m. on NPO 2.
De Volkskrant correspondent Jenne Jan Holtland who wrote the book “The Courier from Maputo about De Jonge”, remembers him on Twitter as an "anthropologist, adventurer, human rights activist, solidarity with the disenfranchised, a tall tree that is no longer there
Reporting by ANP and NL Times