Marius Schoon

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Biographical information

1
Synopsis:

Member of COD and activist

First name: 
Marius
Last name: 
Schoon
Date of birth: 
22 June 1937
Location of birth: 
Johannesburg
Date of death: 
7 February 1999
Location of death: 
Johannesburg

Marius Schoon was born on 22 June 1937 in Johannesburg. He attended the University of Stellenbosch. Schoon moved to the University of Witwatersrand to continue with his post-graduate studies. While at the University he joined the Congress of Democrats.

In 1964 Schoon helped plant a bomb at the Johannesburg Police Station. However, Schoon’s group had been infiltrated by a police agent who supplied the bomb. As a result the bomb went off harmlessly and all those involved were arrested including Mike Ngubeni and Raymond Thoms. Schoon spent 12 years at Pretoria Local Prison for his part in the bomb attempt. Schoon’s father, a member of the National Party, protested his son’s treatment in prison and resigned to join the Progressive Federal Party. While Schoon was in prison his first wife, Diana, committed suicide but he was not allowed to attend her funeral or see their daughter, Jane. In 1976 he was released from prison but was placed under a banning order which restricted him to his home between 6am and 6pm.

Schoon met Jeanette Curtis in 1976 and they married in June 1977. However, because they were both banned they were not legally allowed to communicate so they decided to leave South Africa. They first lived in Botswana where they continued to work in the underground anti-apartheid movement. In 1978 their first child, Katryn was born and in 1981 Fritz was born. Soon after the birth of their son, Schoon moved the family to Angola as he felt it would be safer than Botswana. During this time Schoon worked as a university teacher with the African National Congress (ANC) in Lubango, Angola.

On 28 June 1984, a letter was delivered to the Schoon residence by Craig Williamson who posed as a family friend. Although the letter was meant for Schoon he was not home at the time and Jeanette opened the letter. A bomb exploded and killed both Jeannette and Katryn. Fritz who was in the kitchen escaped unharmed. Schoon moved to the Republic of Ireland with his son. There he met Sherry McLean who he married.

Schoon returned to South Africa in 1990 with the unbanning of anti-apartheid organisations and began working for the Development Bank. Schoon launched a lawsuit against Williamson for the death of his wife and daughter in August 1995. However, in 1998 Williamson and Jerry Raven, his accomplice, applied for amnesty with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Schoon testified in the TRC amnesty hearing in November 1998.

Schoon died on 7 February 1999 after fighting lung cancer. In 2000 both the TRC granted both Williamson and Raven amnesty. 


References:
• McNeil Jr, D.G. 1999. “Marisu Schoon, 61, Is Dead: Foe of Apartheid Lost Family” in The New York Times [online]. Available at www.nytimes.com[28 November 2012]
• Trewhela, P. 1999. “Obituary: Marius Schoon” in The Independent [online]. Available at www.independent.co.uk[28 November 2012]
• Lewin, H. 1999. “Sacrifices for the struggle” in The Guardian [online]. Available at www.guardian.co.uk[28 November 2012]

Last updated : 28-Feb-2013

This article was produced for South African History Online on 05-Mar-2012