Andries Treurnicht was born on 19 February 1921 on Middelpos farm in Piketberg, Cape Town. He attended Piketberg High School where he matriculated in 1939. After being awarded a B.A. he enrolled in 1942 for an M.A degree at the University of Stellenbosch. He was a student at the Stellenbosch Theological Seminary until 1945. During these years he was a member of the Student Representative Council, Chairman of the Students’ Christian Association (SCA) and chairman of Polumnia (for theological students).
In 1946 Treurnicht was appointed travelling Secretary of the SCA and in the same year was appointed Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) in Oudshoorn. During his time there he played rugby for South Western Districts and was scrum-half in the team that played the touring All Blacks in 1949. In 1949 he married Engela Dreyer. He served DRC communities in Rondebosch, Stellenbosch and Pretoria until 1960. While at Rondebosch he read for an M.A in Philosophy and PhD at the University of Cape Town. His doctoral thesis was titled ‘Kuper’s philosophy on relations between the church and the state’. In 1960 he became the editor of the DRC weekly newspaper, ‘Die Kerkbode’. Following the Sharpeville Massacre, he used his editorial powers to agitate for separate development of Blacks and Whites, and he rose to prominence within the ranks of the conservative DRC. He was elected assessor of the DRC Cape Synod in 1965 and of the General synod in 1966. In 1967 Dr Treurnicht was invited by Prime Minister Vorster to become editor of new Pretoria daily ‘Hoofstad’. In this position he provided a mouthpiece of conservative opinion on political, theological, academic and cultural matters.
Treurnicht was a staunch supporter of the National Party. His political career took off when he beat Herstigte Nationale Party candidate Jaap Marais, to win the Waterberg by-election seat. In a surprise move in 1976 he was appointed Deputy Minister of Bantu Administration and Education. In 1978 he was elected Transvaal Leader of the National Party, in 1979 he was appointed Minister of Public works and Tourism and the Minister of State Administration the following year.
Despite being a Minister in parliament he continued to put contrary views to the National Party policies. In 1978 he indicated that he was against the idea of having a mixed parliament or Cabinet. In 1980 he opposed the participation of a team of Coloured schoolboys in Craven Rugby week and the following year clashed with S.P. Botha the Minister of manpower, on government’s labour policy. In 1982 he led a conservative faction that broke away from the National Party in protest against the proposed “sharing of power” that was to be laid out in the tricameral constitution of 1983. After quitting the National Party, Treurnicht founded the Conservative Party (CP) which won 23 seats in the 1987 elections, replacing the Progressive Party as the formal opposition party
In December 1990, when the Nederduitse Gerefomeerde Kerk (NGK, or Dutch Reformed Church) renounced apartheid, Treurnicht was one of the organisers of protest meetings in Pretoria against this policy shift. The organisers maintained that in renouncing apartheid, the NGK had 'made itself guilty of political interference'.
Dr. Treurnicht was awarded a medal from the Afrikaanse Studentebond (1967), a medal from the SRC, University of Pretoria (1976), and the Decoration for Meritorious Service (1982). He wrote prolifically, publishing many articles and a controversial book ‘Credo van ’n Afrikaner’.
Dr Treurnicht died on 22 April 1993 in Cape Town. He is survived by four daughters.