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|Rector of the Randse Afrikaanse Universiteit|
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||de Lange, J.P.|
|Administrator-General of South West Africa|
|Preceded by||Steyn, M.T.|
|Succeeded by||Hough, D.|
|Minister of Education|
|Preceded by||Hartzenberg, F.|
|Succeeded by||Louw, E.|
|Minister of Constitutional Development|
|Preceded by||Heunis. J.C.|
|Succeeded by||Meyer, R.P.|
|Chairman of the Afrikaner Broederbond|
|Preceded by||Treunicht, A.P.|
|Succeeded by||Boshoff, C.W.H.|
Gerrit van Niekerk Viljoen|
September 11, 1926
Cape Town, Cape Province, South Africa
March 29, 2009 (aged 82)|
Stilbaai, Western Cape
|Spouse(s)||Maria Magdalena van der Merwe|
|Alma mater||Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool, University of Pretoria, University of Cambridge, Leiden University|
He was chair of the Broederbond from 1974 to 1980, Administrator-General of South West Africa from 1979 to 1980, Minister of Education in South Africa from 1980 to 1989, and Minister of Constitutional Development from 1989 to 1992.
He was born in Cape Town in 1926, the son of Helena and Hendrik Geldenhuys Viljoen, the editor of Huisgenoot magazine. He attended Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Afrikaans High School for Boys, also known as Affies), a popular and renowned public school located in Pretoria. He continued his studies at the University of Pretoria. Here he was elected to the Student Representative Council and in 1948 was a founder of the Union of Afrikaans students.
He studied classical literature and philosophy at the University of Cambridge, then at the University of Leiden, where he passed his Ph.D. summa cum laude. On returning to South Africa, he worked at the University of Pretoria and in 1967 was named vice-chancellor of the Rand Afrikaans University.
In 1989, he became Minister of Constitutional Development in the government of F. W. de Klerk. As a senior ideologue and spokesman of the National Party, he investigated several constitutional models for a "new South Africa", and took part in the first official negotiations with the African National Congress in May 1990 after the release of political prisoners including Nelson Mandela. During the CODESA negotiations he championed the idea of "group rights", differentiating them from "individual rights", and saw them as a way to entrench the rights of South African groups, including the white minority. He retired from politics and government in 1992 for reasons of health.
Gerrit Viljoen was the father of seven children.
- Gerrit Viljoen on SA History Online