The Literature Police

Brief Biographies of Some Key Censors

Book cover for Stone CountryS. C. Biermann (b.1918), navy admiral. He served as a key security censor from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. His brother H. H. Biermann was chief of the South African Defence Force in the 1970s.

E. Botha (1930–2007), Professor of Afrikaans Literature at the universities of Pretoria and South Africa, a prominent figure in the Afrikaans Skrywerskring (Writers’ Circle). She was appointed under Kruger in the early 1970s and continued to serve as a member of the Publications Appeal Board committee of literary experts in the 1980s. http://www.stellenboschwriters.com/bothae.html

H. Botha (b. 1922), policeman who went on to work for the Bureau of State Security (BOSS). He specialized in subversive organizations and served as a security censor from the late 1970s to the late 1980s.

T. T. Cloete (b. 1924), leading poet, active member of the Broederbond, Professor of Afrikaans Literature at the universities of Potchefstroom and Port Elizabeth. He was also a prominent figure in the Academy of Science and Art. He joined the Dekker Board in 1963 and continued to serve as a key literary censor until the late 1970s.

A. Coetzee, (b. 1925), lecturer in Afrikaans and Dutch literature who then moved into university administration, eventually rising to become deputy principal at the University of Fort Hare, a position he held from 1972 to 1980. He was also a minister in the NGK. He served as the last chief censor from 1981 until 1997. Known as Braam, which is short for Abraham, he is not to be confused with any of the other A. Coetzees, notably Abel Coetzee, the one-time chair of the Afrikaans Skrywerskring (Writers’ Circle), and A. J. (Ampie) Coetzee, the literary academic who was a key figure in Taurus.

G. Dekker (1897–1973), eminent literary critic and historian of Afrikaans literature, Professor of Afrikaans, French, and Art History at the University of Potchefstroom. His foundational Afrikaanse Literatuurgeskiedenis (Afrikaans Literary History) was first published in 1935. He played a leading role in the Academy of Science and Art and on Hertzog Prize committees. A key ally of N. P. van Wyk Louw, Dekker was the first chair of the new Publications Control Board. He served from 1963 to 1968.

S. I. M. du Plessis (1921–2001), Professor of Philosophy at the universities of Cape Town, Natal, and the Western Cape, with a special interest in Kant and Nietzsche. He served as a security censor throughout the 1980s.

S. F. du Toit, key member of the censorship Directorate from the mid-1970s and through the 1980s in charge of the administration of the bureaucracy.

T. M. H. Endemann (b. 1908), Professor of African Languages at the University of the North (‘Turfloop’). Served on the Dekker Board from 1963 to 1968.

W. J. du P. Erlank (1901–84), leading poet who published under the pseudonym ‘Eitemal’, teacher and Professor of Dutch at the University of Stellenbosch. He was also a key figure in the Afrikaans Skrywerskring (Writers’ Circle). He served as a censor under the Kruger Board and as part of the new bureaucracy until the mid-1970s. http://www.stellenboschwriters.com/eitemal.html

F. C. Fensham (1925–89), Professor of Semitic Studies at the University of Stellenbosch, prolific writer on theological and cultural issues, and active member of various cultural organizations, who also acted as chair of the Afrikaans Skrywerskring (Writers’ Circle) in the 1970s. He served as a literary censor from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. http://www.stellenboschwriters.com/fensham.html

G. E. Giannelos (b. 1929), teacher and active member of various cultural organizations. She served under the Kruger Board in the early 1970s and continued to be an important literary censor throughout the 1980s.

F. C. Gonin (b.1908), educationalist and professor at the universities of Pretoria and South Africa. She served as a literary censor from the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.

A. P. Grové (1918–2004), leading literary critic, editor of Standpunte, and Professor of Afrikaans at the University of Pretoria. After joining the Dekker Board in 1963, he continued to serve under Kruger in the 1970s and on the Publications Appeal Board committee of literary experts in the 1980s.

C. J. D. Harvey (b.1922), Professor of English at the University of Stellenbosch, translator, and member of the editorial board of Standpunte. He joined the Dekker Board in 1963 and served as a key literary censor until 1968. http://www.stellenboschwriters.com/harvey.html

J. A. Heyns (1928–94), leading theologian, prominent reformer within the NGK, and Professor of Dogmatic at the University of Pretoria. He played an important part in Abraham Coetzee’s reformist programme in the 1980s as a literary and religious censor. He was assassinated in 1994, it is assumed by Afrikaner extremists. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_Heyns

Tony Hickman (b.1920), politician, conservative United Party MP. He served as a security censor in the late 1970s.

J. P. Jansen (b.1923), Professor of African Studies at the University of Stellenbosch with a special interest in the Black Consciousness movement. He joined the Kruger Board in the early 1970s and served as a key security censor throughout the 1980s.
http://www.stellenboschwriters.com/jansenj.html

J. J. Kruger (1908–76), journalist with a background in literature and philosophy, former chief editor of Die Transvaler, who also served as cultural adviser to the SABC. He took over from Gerrit Dekker as chair of the Publications Control Board in 1969 and continued to serve under the new system until his death.

J. M. Leighton, Professor of English at the Rand Afrikaans University, children’s author. He served on the Kruger Board in the 1970s.

R. E. Lighton (b. 1903), teacher, school inspector, and finally Professor of Education at the University of Cape Town. He was also a minor novelist and an anthologist. His first novel Out of the Strong, an adventure story, was published by Macmillan in 1957, and Stories South African, which he complied with A. Lennox-Short, was published by APB in 1969. He joined the Kruger Board in the early 1970s, where he served as vice-chair, and went on to serve as deputy director of the new censorship bureaucracy from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s.

Anna M. Louw (1913–2003), prolific and distinguished Afrikaans writer. She won the Hertzog Prize for Kroniek van Perdepoort in 1976. She served as a censor in the mid-1970s. Though she resigned over the Magersfontein furore, she returned to serve on the Publications Appeal Board committee of experts in the 1980s. http://www.stellenboschwriters.com/louwa.html

E. G. Malan (b. 1918), journalist, politician, United Party MP who served on various parliamentary bodies, including the Schlebusch Commission, and minor writer. He joined the new censorship bureaucracy in the mid-1970s and went on to serve as a deputy director in the 1980s.

A. H. Murray (1905–97), Professor of Philosophy at the universities of Cape Town and the Western Cape with a special interest in ideas of political pluralism. He published books on J. A. de Mist and communist strategy, and gained notoriety as a state witness during the Treason Trial in the 1950s. He also served on a commission into Bantu Education during this period. He joined the Dekker Board in 1963 and served as a key security censor until the mid-1980s.

G. S. Nienaber (1903–94), leading literary critic, active in various cultural organizations, including the Afrikaans Skrywerskring (Writers’ Circle), and Professor of Afrikaans at the University of Natal. He served on the Kruger Board in the 1970s.

S. V. Petersen (1914–87), schoolteacher and prominent black Afrikaans poet. He served on the censorship committees from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s.

J. L. Pretorius, civil servant. He was appointed as the first chief censor, or Director of Publications, under the new legislation in 1975. He remained in post for three years.

U. L. Ramsay (b. 1929), identified herself as a housewife on her application, university graduate with a special interest in English, Afrikaans, and French literature. She served on the literary committees throughout the 1980s.

C. F. Rudolph (b. 1919), lecturer in Afrikaans literature, minor poet, active figure in the Afrikaans Skrywerskring (Writers’ Circle). He edited the group’s magazine Tydskrif vir Letterkunde from 1966 to 1972. He also worked for the Cronjé Commission in the 1950s. He served on the censorship committees from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s.

E. H. (Rita) Scholtz (b. 1924), wife of Merwe Scholtz, identified herself as a housewife on her application form, graduate with a special interest in English and Afrikaans literature. She wrote her master’s thesis on the poet N. P. van Wyk Louw. She was a key literary censor from the mid-1970s and throughout the 1980s.

H. van der Merwe Scholtz (1924–2005), minor poet, Professor of Afrikaans Literature at the universities of Pretoria, Amsterdam, and Cape Town, and prominent critic with a strong commitment to N. P. van Wyk Louw’s idea of the volk avant-garde. He was an influential literary figure in the censorship bureaucracy from 1963 to 1977, when he resigned after the Magersfontein furore. He returned to serve on the Publication Appeal Board’s committee of literary experts and on other censorship committees in the 1980s.
http://www.stellenboschwriters.com/scholtzhw.html

M. G. Scholtz (b.1936), Professor of Afrikaans Literature at the universities of Port Elizabeth and the Orange Free State. He served as a key literary censor from the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.

P. C. Smit (b.1943), lawyer and Professor of Law at the University of the Western Cape. He served on the security committees from the mid-1970s and throughout the 1980s.

J. H. Snyman (b. 1907), Supreme Court judge from 1958 to 1975. He became the first chair of the Publications Appeal Board in 1975 and held the office for five years. Known generally as Lammie Snyman, he was noted for his conservative and anti-literary views.

N. G. Steytler (1922–98), journalist, writer, and publisher. Though he served as a censor during the Kruger period in the 1970s, he later went on to play a key part in the Afrikaans Skrywersgilde (‘Writers’ Guild’), which took a strong anti-censorship stance. Known generally as Klaas Steytler, he was married to the acclaimed Afrikaans novelist Else Joubert.

A. M. Theron (b. 1918), a former teacher. A key member of the Dekker and Kruger boards, she continued to serve as a literary censor under the new system throughout the 1980s.

E. M. Theron (b. 1935), a drama teacher who was active in various cultural organizations, and a translator. She served as a key literary censor from the mid-1970s and throughout the 1980s.

P. J. H. Titlestad (b. 1938), Professor of English at the universities of Natal and Pretoria. He served on the censorship committees and the Publications Appeal Board committee of experts from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.

J. C. W. van Rooyen (b. 1943), Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Pretoria. He served on the Publications Appeal Board from its inception in 1975 and as chair throughout the 1980s, during which time he became a notable reformer. Partly because of this his appointment was not renewed in 1990.

D. Vosloo, civil servant. He briefly stood in as chief censor in the late 1970s between the Pretorius and the Coetzee periods.

M. M. Wiggett (b. 1906), teacher and school inspector. Appointed under the Kruger Board in the mid-1970s and served on the censorship committees until the early 1980s.


Copyright 2009 by Peter D. McDonald unless otherwise specified
Website by Andrew Kirkpatrick