Professor Willie Jonker
(Order of the Disa: Officer)
The Order of the Disa is a provincial-level order issued by the Department of the Premier of Western Cape Province. It was created by the Provincial Honours Act 9 of 1999, and is enshrined in Section 6 (1) of the Western Cape Provincial Constitution. It is awarded in the following three levels:
- Commander: for rendering excellent meritorious service
- Officer: for rendering outstanding meritorious service
- Member: for rendering noteworthy meritorious service.
Willie Jonker, born on 1 March 1929, paid a heavy price for his view that the church of Jesus Christ can never be exclusive to only certain people or only one part of the community. Already in the 1960’s he experienced being rejected by a large part of the church for his views, but although this brought a personal crisis in his life he did not loose course.
Jonker went to the School of Theology in Kampen in the Netherlands in the late sixties where, being far from his church, he could focus on his field of study. Nevertheless, his appointment as lecturer in theology at the University of
Stellenbosch brought a new opportunity and was a turning point in his life. Since
1971 until his retirement he was a professor in ethics and dogmatics at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Stellenbosch.
One of the critical moments in his life was at the Rustenburg Churches Conference in 1990 where he made a confession in his own name, but also on behalf of the Dutch Reformed Church and the Afrikaner people for all the “political, social, economic and structural wrongs that have been done” to many South Africans in the past. It was a turning point in history and made a positive contribution to relations between different communities. Archbishop Desmond Tutu reacted positively at the conference by stating that he forgives him. This signified a significant contribution to reconciliation and building of democracy. Professor Jonker continued to work within the church on strengthening relations between different communities in South Africa.
In recognition for his rendering outstanding meritorious service in the interest of the Province of the Western Cape, the Order of the Disa: Officer, is awarded to Professor Willie Jonker.