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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Van Der Merwe, Jacobus Hercules (Koos)

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Koos van Der Merwe was born on 4 August 1937 in the Orange Free State. He matriculated in 1955. After attending the University of Pretoria for two years, he was employed as a judge's registrar, after which he sold insurance for a year.

He began articles with a firm of attorneys, studying part-time through the University of South Africa and completing a legal diploma (Dip Proc) in 1966. He was admitted to the side-bar in 1967, subsequently completing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Politics and a BA (Hons) in Political Science. In 1959 Van der Merwe became chairman of the local branch of the Nasionale Jeugbond. He later served on its Transvaal executive. Van der Merwe then seriously resumed his studies, resigned all his political positions, and it was only in the 1970s, once he had qualified as an attorney, that he returned to active politics.

Van der Merwe stood in the 1977 general election, becoming Member of Parliament for Jeppe. He was the second person to walk out of the NP caucus meeting following Andries Treurnicht over a dispute concerning the concept of 'power sharing' with other race groups. Van der Merwe was a founder member of the Conservative Party (CP) and immediately became its chief spokesman on Defence and chairman of its information committee, also serving on its Hoofraad (executive committee). For a few years he also served as chief spokesman on Home Affairs and for one year was editor of Die Patriot, the CP's weekly mouthpiece.

In the 1987 election Van der Merwe stood for parliament in the Overvaal constituency and won the seat. He held it in the 1989 election with an increased majority. He served in the negotiation processes at CODESA in 1991 and 1992. Following the first democratic elections in 1994, he served as a Member of Parliament and Chief Whip for the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), having been expelled from the Conservative Party before the 1994 election.

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