Jacqueline Daane-van Rensburg

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Biographical information

Synopsis:

anti-Apartheid activist.

First name: 
Jacqueline
Last name: 
Daane-van Rensburg
Date of birth: 
17 December 1937

Jacqueline Daane was born on 17 December 1937. A White South African, her first encounter with police came in 1956 when she adopted a mute Black boy (6). She wanted to send the boy to the school for the deaf in Worcester. The police forced her to move. Her encounters with the police against their brutality continued in Claremont in 1957and in 1958 in Swellendam Daane filed a complaint against a police officer for the battering of an innocent Coloured man. Her family was forced to move again as a result.

In 1959 Daane received a warning from the Claremont police because she assisted an Indian person who had been run over by a car and in 1960. In Wetton she was warned  again, this time at gunpoint for letting black people make use of her water tap during their march to Cape Town.

Eventually in 1960 the Daane – van Rensburg family went into voluntary exile and settled in the Netherlands, but Jacqueline carried on her fight against Apartheid and by 1966 in The Hague, she was in contact with the first Anti-Apartheid movement in the Netherlands from the beginning started by Rev. Buskes and Margaret Klompé.

In 1967 she went to New Zealand and became involved with two Anti-Apartheid movements, namely C.A.R.E and H.A.R.T (adoption schemes for the people in the South African ‘homelands’ and the “letters, cards, parcels” campaign). So often people would ask what they could do, and Daane replied by encouraging people to make contact with people fighting against Apartheid. Her names came from people with her abroad, like Dora Tamana, Francis Baard and Connie Masuabi, just to name a few.

Also during her time in New Zealand, the Rugby war broke out. Should the Springboks visit New Zealand or not? Daane became involved in that fight and on 5 March 1973 Daane made a speech at the Rotorua Rotary Club for support to stop the 1973 Springbok Tour to New Zealand. On 7 May 1973 she received a letter from the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Norman Kirk, acknowledging that he received our request to stop the 1973 Springbok Tour.  Jacqueline returned to the Netherlands and later, on 18 June 1976, she received a letter from the then Prime Minister of New Zealand Mr. Muldoon, who indicated that he intended to reverse the sporting ties with South Africa.

On 18 November 1982 an article appeared in a South African national newspaper about Daane’s adoption scheme, which she started in New Zealand, by this stage it had grown to be a worldwide support for the people in the so-called ‘Homelands’. Once back in Holland the letters and parcel activities also grew, and by that time so many people were involved that Daane couldn’t handle it on her own. In 1978 she handed all activities over to the late Ditte Zwaal.

In March 1988 Daane heard about the tragic and brutal death of her friend Dulcie September. She wrote her obituary for a local paper, which was promptly replied to in a reactionary article and Daane received an anonymous phone call from a person who told her, ‘You are next on the death list’.

From the late 1980’s until the time of Mandela’s release, Daane remained active speaking to schools, church groups etc. On 5 May 1988 the was an article in local newspaper about a local primary school taking action against Apartheid where she was the guest speaker and in 1990 an article was published in the LOTA bulletin about Daane’s activities against Apartheid.

Daane received many letters of support for her activities; in particular in 1988 she received letters from the Dutch Communist Party and Marina Cleven. In 2001 she received affidavits from Member of Parliament Mr. Reg. September and Deputy High Commissioner in London Mr. George Johannes.

On 24 March 2004 Daane finally got her legal documents to leave the Netherlands to return to her home country after 44 years. She now lives in Gordon’s Bay, South Africa.

The following autobiography was written by Jacqueline herself and sent to SAHO.

 

As I am watching another milestone in our young democratic history, the right to hostthe World Cup Soccer Championships in 2010, I can’t help but think back to so many years ago.

I can remember being outside picking figs when the butcheries young delivery boy returned from his ‘interview’ at the police station, bloodied, clothes torn and biting fiercely on his lip in an effort not to cry he stood there and I felt equally bewildered. I called my husband and he took the boy home.

The ‘interview’ was necessary since one of the white women where he had delivered meat had called the police and told them that he had stolen her diamond ring she left in the kitchen. Of course in those days, the late fifties, white policeman had their own version of what an interview was and mostly conducted such with a baton, a whip and much swearing.

I can’t exactly say what made me do what I did, but I marched to the police station and demanded to know the truth and nothing but the truth. It took a while for the policemen present to realize that I was taking it up for the boy but finally the one who did the ‘interview’ came out from the backroom.

”What do you want missies” he asked

”I want to know why you had beaten up the butcher boy,” I answered ”We thought he had stolen the ladies ring, but it turned out that she didn’t leave it in the kitchen but in the bathroom, so everything is fine.”

”No it’s not”, I replied, “you had accused the boy of theft, beaten him half to death and now you pretend that everything is fine. I’m not satisfied with that and I want to know what you are going to do about it”.

”Do about it?” he asked in amazement. “I am not going to do anything about it. The bloody hotnot got a beating and finish en klaar”. He started to turn around to walk away when I said: “I’m going to press charges against you.”

The icy silence that met my statement and the six pairs of eyes watching me told me that I have finally crossed the line. I have committed myself and there was no way back. A white woman just didn’t bother herself with such things.> It was not my first confrontation with the police, but it would be my last. Of courseso much pressure were put on the boys parents that they begged me to drop my charge and when I was told in no uncertain manner that I was heading for prison and my husband, being foreign, for deportation, and after much discussion we left South Africa and my life of anti-apartheids activist took off.> Europe in the early sixties was just starting to wake up to what apartheid was all about. The idea of racial segregation was alien to them and that made the task of educating them even harder.

The Rivonia trial and the South African Government made sure that all those opposing apartheid were labeled either terrorist or communist and this was a very clever thing to do because the whole of Europe was terrified of communism in particular.

But we continued and more and more people joined us in our efforts, politicians steered clear from us, except left-wingers who were ready to listen.

There was nothing heroic about what we did, continuously banging on doors that stayed closed, but we kept banging and slowly they started to open. Faith brought me to New Zealand at the time of a major sporting war. Would there be a Rugby tour or not. No one thought we could do it, but we stopped the tour.

I can still remember being busy in the kitchen when the phone rang. ”Its Norm Kirk here, is that you Jacqui” <> ”Yes Prime Minister this is me” ”Jacqui, we have just reached our decision and we want you to be the first person to know what it is. Thanks to you and all those like you who have put up such a fight, I am delighted to tell you there will be no tour.”

He hung up and I stood there and cried, we have won a little victory, and that later others would take all the credit didn’t bother me, by that time I was used to that part of the human character. We returned to Holland and my “work” continued. Many South Africans were receiving parcels and financial help much to the annoyance of the established anti-apartheids groups who were certain that humanitarian help would prevent the people from rising up against their oppressors. They were wrong of course, here at home more and more people were standing up and were willing to face and challenge the brutal racist regime that have kept them down trodden for so long.

Things changed, now it was fashionable to be against apartheid. Soccer players would dedicate their prizes to Nelson Mandela, but didn’t join the struggle. Politicians unlocked their doors and actually invited us in.

Then came the memorable day that together with so many others I watched Nelson Mandela walk out of the prison gates. I watched without emotion, I gave my pre-arranged radio interview, went to the town square to hold my speech, watched as the black green and yellow balloons floated away in the late afternoon sun. I returned home and started to clear my desk. Forty years of my life was given to the cause, there were the bomb scares, the persistent wariness for letter and parcel bombs, there was the loss of a child, who didn’t want to live in a South African dominated home any longer, and there was the realization that so many dreams that were put on the backburner would never be realized I expected no gratitude for that is not why I did what I did, besides who knows why people make the choices they do. We are what we are.

The many foot soldiers like I, were responsible for breaking down the walls of racism, we ploughed the land with our bare hands and we planted the seeds of democracy. Now it is up to you to continue and make democracy thrive. Don’t sell our land to the money hungry; remember this land is given to us for safe keeping for our children’s children. It is not ours to do with it what we please.

I will sit on my stoep and watch the process and deep in my heart I know that all is and all will be well, and you have my blessings. I am dedicating this to my dear friend the late Dulcie September, she never saw democracy dawn on South African soil, she gave her live for your freedom, don’t forget her.

I am not the type to blow my own horn, so I will leave it as it is but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be watching.


References:
• Daane-van Rensburg, J. No piece of cake, a short autobiography given to SAHO. Written in Gordon’s Bay, 27 October 2004

Last updated : 08-May-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011