Patrick van Rensburg

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Staff house at Swaneng Hill School, founded by Patrick van Rensburg in Serowe, Botswana

Patrick van Rensburg (born December 1931) is a South African educationalist and former anti-apartheid activist. He founded the Brigades Movement in Botswana, and the Foundation for Education with Production which is active in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.


Van Rensburg was born in Durban, South Africa. His parents separated when he was young, and he was raised by his Afrikaner grandmother and her French Mauritian husband. The family spoke English at home and were Roman Catholic: a big difference from the traditional Afrikaner upbringing. Van Rensburg attended St. Henry's Marist Brothers' College and Glenwood High School.[1] He has three children: sons Mothusi and Thomas van Rensburg and daughter Joanna Forbes.

Diplomatic and political activities[edit]

Van Rensburg was South African Vice-Consul in the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo) from February 1956 till May 1957, when he resigned as a protest against South Africa's apartheid policies of racial discrimination. He joined the Liberal Party of South Africa, becoming the party's organising secretary for the Transvaal province in September 1958.

In 1959 he moved to the UK, where he almost immediately began helping organise the 1960 campaign to boycott South African goods in the UK and the Netherlands. Other organisers and supporters of the campaign included Julius Nyerere, Trevor Huddleston, Canon John Collins and Tennyson Makiwane. The Boycott Movement soon grew into the British Anti-Apartheid Movement.[2]

Van Rensburg was vilified by Afrikaners for his part in the campaign, and when he returned to South Africa in 1960, his passport was confiscated and he fled over the border to Swaziland.


In 1962 he moved to Bechuanaland (now Botswana), where he undertook many educational and social initiatives. In the 1980s he founded the Foundation for Education with Production. He is now one of Botswana's elder statesmen, having written a regular column for years for Mmegi, the independent daily newspaper.


Van Rensburg has written a number of titles for the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation.



  1. ^ newspaper clipping reproduced in A.M. van Rensburg.""Patrick van Rensburg"". Archived from the original on October 13, 2004. Retrieved October 25, 2009.  . Accessed 2006-08-17
  2. ^ Christabel Gurney. "'A Great Cause'. The origins of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, June 1959–March 1960". African National Congress. Accessed 2006-08-17

External links[edit]