Former South African Prime Minister and State President John Vorster is born


Balthazar John Vorster

Monday, 13 December 1915

Former South African Prime Minister and State President, Balthazar John Vorster was born in in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape on 13 December 1915. Vorster began his political career as a lawyer after completing his studies at the University of Stellenbosch. Vorster was instrumental in the founding of the anti-British Ossewa-Brandwag (OB), and also became a general in its paramilitary wing. The O.B. was an ultra right wing, underground Afrikaner movement opposed to South Africa's participation in WWII.

The Conservative section of the NP were impressed by Vorster's membership of and involvement the activities of the OB during World War II. He became a member of the NP cabinet in the 1950s. In 1953 he was elected to Parliament as member for Nigel and was appointed Deputy Minister in 1958. Three years later Vorster was appointed as the Minister of Justice. This portfolio was combined with that of Police and Prisons in 1966. Vorster toughened the government's enforcement of apartheid laws by introducing the Sabotage Act in 1962. He also greatly increased the number of security police and extended detention without trial. When Hendrik Verwoerd was assassinated in 1966, Vorster succeeded him as Prime Minister. After his appointment Vorster successfully removed Coloured people from the Common Voters' Roll in 1968. He also abolished the last 4 seats held by white representatives of Coloured people in the National Assembly.

Vorster retired as prime minister after twelve years in office and was elected as the honorary State President of South Africa. However, his term in office was short-lived as he relinquished his position after he was implicated in the Muldergate/Information scandal, named after Dr Connie Mulder, then Minister of Information. Vorster died in Cape Town in 1983.

• Mark R. Lipschutz, R. Kent Rasmussen, (1989), Dictionary of African historical biography, (Los Angeles), p.290.
• Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau.)
• Giliomee, H. and Mbenga, B (eds) (2007),"New History of South Africa" (Cape Town), pp 298 to 301
•  Kane-Berman, J (1978) "Soweto: Black Revolt, White Reaction" (Johannesburg), p. 171

Last updated : 09-Nov-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011