The Nelson Mandela Foundation has conveyed its condolences to the family of the former commander of the South African Defence Force (SADF) and co-founder of the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus), General Constand Viljoen. 

Viljoen died on Friday at his farm in Orighstad in Limpopo at the age of 86. He was the first leader of the Freedom Front, which he led in the elections in 1994 before handing over power in 2001.  

The Foundation says he was one of Madiba’s most formidable political adversaries.  

The Foundation further says in the treacherous days of South Africa’s transition to democracy, Viljoen ultimately chose to negotiate with Madiba, who commended him for his maturity and foresight in choosing to make peace rather than war.  

According to the Foundation, there was mutual respect between Madiba and Viljoen. 

Earlier, President Cyril Ramaphosa also conveyed his condolences to the family of Viljoen.  

Meanwhile, Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald says Viljoen will be remembered for the role he played in preventing violence ahead of the first democratic elections.

“General Viljoen will be known as a soldier and as a politician. “

“As a soldier, he gained the respect and admiration from the troops on ground level because he was a general who believed that he should lead from the front and not from behind,” Groenewald said.

In the video below, Viljoen is credited for his role in preventing the threat of right-wing violence ahead of the first democratic elections in 1994.