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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Vlok, Adriaan Johannes

Adriaan Vlok was born on 11 December 1937 in Sutherland, Cape Province. He grew up on a smallholding close to the Orange River, attending Neilerdrift Primary School and Keimoes High School, where he matriculated in 1956. Following three months of military training in Pretoria during 1957, he began work for the Department of Justice in the magistrate's offices of Keimoes and Upington. Between 1959 and 1966 he served as an under-secretary at the department's head office in Pretoria. During this time he completed his Dip Proc at the University of Pretoria in 1962.

Vlok was appointed private secretary to Pelser, Minister of Justice, a post he held for four months before becoming assistant private secretary to John Vorster.

In 1970 Vlok resigned from the public service and went into business with the aim of moving into politics. Together with other private interests, he ran the Messenger of the Court office in Pretoria East. Vlok had an active interest in military matters and, following his basic training, voluntarily joined Regiment Oranjerivier. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant before he resigned his commission on entering active party politics. In 1972 Vlok was elected to the Verwoerdburg City Council and served on its management committee. During this time he was active in various local cultural organisations. Vlok joined the National Party in 1959 and in 1964 he began to participate actively in party functions. In the late 1960's he chaired the General Hertzog branch of the NP in Verwoerdburg and in 1970 was elected chairman of the divisional council of the Pretoria Constituency, a position he held until his election as Minister of Parliament for Verwoerdburg in 1974. On 17 September 1984, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Defence.

On 14 January 1985 he was appointed Deputy Minister of Law and Order, a portfolio he held concurrently with that of Deputy Minister of Defence. The following year in December he was appointed Minister of Law and Order. His ministry was responsible for suppression of the revolt and the detention of an estimated 30,000 people, with as many as 15,000 being held at one time during the declaration of the state of emergency. As Minister of Law and Order, Vlok was also responsible for administering the controversial national security management system (NSMS). In February 1988, Vlok announced the restriction of 17 extra-parliamentary organisations, including the United Democratic Front, the National Education Crisis Committee, the Release Mandela Campaign, the Soweto Civic Association, the South African Youth Congress and the Azanian People's Organisation.

In May 1990, Vlok served on the government team, which held talks with the ANC delegation at Groote Schuur, Cape Town. In the same month, following increased militancy by right wing groups, Vlok held talks with the leader of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, Eugene Terre'Blanche, in an effort to defuse the situation. In April 1991 the ANC requested the dismissal of Vlok but F.W. De Klerk refused. At the end of July 1991 De Klerk reshuffled cabinet portfolios and Vlok became Minister of Correctional Services. In 1994 Vlok resigned from active party politics. On 20 July 1998 Vlok testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that De Klerk knew of the countrywide bomb planting, a move aimed at destabilising the ANC, and he asked for amnesty for his role in that regard.

Source: Gastrow, S. (1992). Who's Who in South African Politics, Vol.4, Johannesburg: Ravan, pp. 320 322.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.