Frans Erasmus

Frans Christiaan Erasmus (1896–1967) was a South African National Party politician and Minister of Defence from June 1948 to 1959 as well as Minister of justice from 1959 to August 1961.

François Christiaan Erasmus
Minister of Justice
In office
1959  August 1961
Prime Minister
Preceded byCharles Robberts Swart
Succeeded byB. J. Vorster
Minister of Defence
In office
4 June 1948  12 December 1959
Prime MinisterHendrik Verwoerd
Preceded byJan Smuts
Succeeded byJacobus Johannes Fouché
Personal details
Born(1896-01-19)19 January 1896
Houtenbeck, Merweville District, Cape Colony
Died1 July 1967(1967-07-01) (aged 71)
De Mond, Bredasdorp District
NationalitySouth African
Spouse(s)Christina Wiese

Early life

He was born on 19 January 1896 at Houtenbeck in the Merweville district of the Cape Colony to Marthinus Frederik Erasmus and his wife Hester Maria Jacoba Maritz. [1]

Family life

Erasmus first married Christina Wiese of Melsetter in the then Southern Rhodesia. They had a son and a daughter. On 9 January 1946 he married Cornelia Margaretha (Corrie) Naudé of Lydenburg. They had three daughters. [1]


In 1927 he was appointed Deputy Attorney General of South West Africa. Afterwards he entered politics and was elected to Parliament in 1933.[2] He joined D F Malan's cabinet as the Minister of Defence in 1948.[3] He was widely considered to be incompetent[4] and was very unpopular[4] because of his broad changes to the military to remove what he called the "British Influence".[4] This included the removal of items such as the Red Tabs (Rooi Luise) and the retrenchment or firing of numerous English-speaking officers and the appointment of Afrikaner ones in their place.

After his term as Minister of Justice he was appointed Ambassador to Italy.[2]

A Strike Craft SAS Frans Erasmus of the South African Navy was named after him.[5]


  1. "Erasmus, François Christiaan". Dictionary of South African Biography. V. Human Sciences Research Council. 1987. pp. 246–8. ISBN 0-7969-0420-0.
  2. Boulter, Roger (2011). A biography of F.C. Erasmus, South African defence minister, 1948-1959. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 9780773425866.
  3. C.J. Nöthling, E.M. Meyers (1982). "Leaders through the years (1912-1982)". Scientaria Militaria. 12 (2): 92.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. Warwick, Dr Rodney (5 December 2014). "Let's not forget SA's role in WW2". Retrieved 13 December 2014. The NP government from 1948 cautiously distanced itself from the OB, however its main concern with the UDF was to Afrikanerize it as thoroughly and quickly as practical. This task was taken on by the unpopular and incompetent defence minister Frans Erasmus; supported by lackeys like the war "refusenik" Afrikaner nationalist Rudolf Hiemstra, who ultimately rose to the SADF Commandant-General position during 1965-73.
  5. Wessels, Andre. "FLAG-SHOWING CRUISES BY SOUTH AFRICAN WARSHIPS, 1922-2002". SA Navy. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
Political offices
Preceded by
Jan Smuts
Minister of Defence (South Africa)
Succeeded by
Jacobus Johannes Fouché

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