|This photograph from the Sunday Express of July 25, 1965 shows writer Jack Cope (second from left) taking a bunch of flowers from Jan Rabie, while Jonker’s publisher, Johan Cilliers, and the artist Erik Laubser (partly obscured) assist him near the graveside during Jonker’s funeral. Picture: Sunday Express
Jonker threatened writers
Forbade non-religious service for estranged daughter
Dr. Abraham Jonker, Nationalist M.P., threatened to take stern action against a group of Cape Town writers when he learnt they were planning a non-religious service with tributes and poetry for the funeral of his poet daughter, Ingrid.
"The writers had no right to make such arrangements," Dr. Jonker told me today [Saturday, July 24, 1965].
After the writers had received a telephone call from Dr. Jonker they handed the funeral arrangements over to him as next-of-kin. A Dutch Reformed minister, Ds. J.L. van Rooyen, then conducted the service on Thursday afternoon.
Mr. Jack Cope, well-known novelist and short-story writer, who was a close friend of Ingrid, acting on behalf of the group of writers, had made arrangements for the funeral when Dr. Jonker intervened. It was planned that Mr. Uys Krige, Afrikaans poet and author, would read a tribute at the graveside, and that Mr. Jan Rabie, an Afrikaans author, would read two of Ingrid's poems.
These arrangements were made in consultation with Ingrid's sister, Mrs. Annetjie Bairos, to whom Ingrid was close. Ingrid had been estranged
from her father for some time.
|Writer Jack Cope is assisted by Johan Cilliers, Ingrid's publisher, at her funeral.
Dr. Jonker told me today that he was in a shop in Alice when he was told of Ingrid's death.
"I wanted to return to Cape Town immediately," he said, "but my wife asked me to wait until she had established further details."
Dr. Jonker sharply criticised the writers and their association with his daughter.
Body in sea
Ingrid's body was found in the sea at Three Anchor Bay on Monday morning. I had seen her on Sunday night, when she appeared distraught. She had threatened on a number of occasions to commit suicide, and had been forcibly restrained several times from trying to carry out her threats.
She was seen walking around Sea Point early on Monday morning, and called at the Sea Point police station. According to a police report, I learn, she said that she had been forsaken.
Earlier, she had rushed out of her flat into the sea, but had been pulled back by a woman friend who was staying with her. Ingrid's sever-year-old daughter, Simone, saw her mother rush off and screamed. Simone is now with her father, Mr. Piet Venter, in Johannesburg. Ingrid was divorced from Mr. Venter, whom she married in 1956, some years ago.
When Dr. Jonker told the writers that he was insisting on a religious funeral - Ingrid did not belong to any church - they asked for permission to pay their tributes and read her poems. This was agreed to, but then refused.
Dr. Jonker telephoned Mr. Cope at his Clifton bungalow and accused the writers of trying to make a "political" issue of the funeral. Ingrid had condemned Government censorship policies, and she had also publicly criticised her father.
Dr. Jonker then threatened to take action unless the writers abandoned their funeral plans. At the funeral, Dr. and Mrs. Jonker (Ingrid's step-mother), relatives, friends and the writers were present - but the writers stood apart.
Among Ingrid's non-White friends at the funeral service were Peter Clarke and Amos Langdown, artists, James Matthews, a writer, and Adam Small, the poet. Non-White servants who had known Ingrid were also present.
Ingrid's sister, Annetjie, refused to attend the funeral because of the changed arrangements.
The atmosphere at the funeral was tense. After the service, the writers stood near the graveside in the rain. Mr. Cope, overcome by grief, crouched next to the grave, sobbing. He was comforted by Mr. Uys Krige.
She kept a diary, but in the last few days all she entered were the words: 'Silence'.
Ingrid had been in poor health for some months and had been under medical care. She kept a diary, but in the last few days all she entered were the words: "Silence."
Her writer friends visited her continually to try to comfort her, but without success.
She had been involved in a motor accident five weeks before her death, and broken her foot. The plaster cast was removed a week before she died.
She wrote a number of poems just before her death.
She had told friends that if she ever committed suicide, she would walk straight into the sea. In her poems she predicted this end.
Ingrid was born in Douglas, near Kimberley, in 1934. She came to Cape Town as a child. She published two books of poems, "Ontvlugting" and "Rook en oker."
She was awarded the Afrikaanse Pers-Boekhandel literary prize of R2 000 in 1963 for a collection of poems, and given a bursary by the Anglo American Corporation.
She spent three months in Europe. She had intended to be overseas for a year, but ill-health again brought her back to Cape Town.
Ingrid clashed openly with Afrikaanse Pers when her book of poems was published. Afrikaanse Pers wanted to delete a poem she had written about an African child killed after the Langa riots. But she insisted that the poem be included, and won her battle. At one time she threatened to withdraw the book from the publishers.
The poem, entitled "Die Kind", has been translated into nine languages and has been broadcast by the B.B.C.
Ingrid was a member of the Sestigers.
A fund, started in her memory, will be known as the "Ingrid Jonker Poetry Memorial Fund".
Two members of the Special Brance attended Ingrid's funeral. One of them told me: "I am a friend of the Jonker family. I have known Dr. Jonker since he moved into St James, on the False Bay coast. I have never read the poetry of Ingrid Jonker..."
- "Jonker threatened writers", Sunday Times, July 25, 1965