Veteran journalist and author dies

Veteran journalist, author and artist Hans Strydom (68) died in Pretoria on Sunday, his family confirmed on Monday. He had been ill for a long time.

Strydom was a doyen of South African journalists and was the chairperson of the Southern African Society of Journalists. He also chaired the Johannesburg and Durban press clubs.

One of the highlights in his career was his co-authoring of the sensational exposé of the Afrikaner Broederbond called The Super-Afrikaners.

Strydom believed it was his defining contribution to the emergence of true democracy in South Africa.

Strydom was born in Rustenburg in 1936. He matriculated in Nylstroom, attended the Heidelberg Teachers Training College and obtained a BA with distinction from the University of South Africa.

He went straight into journalism on the then Sondagstem.

“When that newspaper closed he was lured into politics, joining the Nasionale Unie Party and being thrown in at the deep end by having to stand in parliamentary elections against the famous Blaar Coetzee for the Vereeniging seat.

“Strydom was eventually obliged to admit defeat in what was a closely fought contest, but his one and only election poster found a place for itself in political folklore. In typical Strydom fashion the poster read: ‘Blaar is klaar, gee Hans ‘n kans’.”

His love of the written word inevitably drew him back to journalism where he spent the next 28 years on various publications as a political reporter and later an editorial executive.

His last 12 years in journalism were with the Sunday Times as news editor and assistant editor under the late Tertius Myburgh.

After his retirement he won the Johannesburg Northcliff municipal seat for the Progressive Party.

During this period he had become a publisher, creating and running Scripta Afrikaner, which published a highly sought-after collection of historical books on the Anglo-Boer South African War.

Strydom also published the Wynand Claassen book More than Just Rugby, Frederick van Zyl Slabbert’s The Last White Parliament and Alan Paton’s last book, Save the Beloved Country.

Strydom’s own books were The Super-Afrikaners (1978), and For Volk & Führer (1983), subsequently filmed as The Fourth Reich.

He was also the author of Afrikaner Cameos, a collection of his columns dealing with South African life and peppered with his trademark wry humour.

Latterly Strydom turned his hand to what he called “naive” oil paintings depicting moments in the complex tapestry of South African society. His work endeared him to a growing collector and fan base.

Said his son, Hans Jnr: “My farther was an unwavering optimist about the future of democratic South Africa.

“He would have liked to be remembered for his contributions to the changes we have seen, and for his work for empowerment institutions such as Promat Colleges, specialising in upgrading the qualifications of black teachers.”

Strydom is survived by his wife, Gertie, three children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.—Sapa

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