Hendrik Mentz

Hendrik Mentz DTD (8 August 1877 – 3 June 1938) was a South African Party lawyer, politician, soldier and South African Minister of Defence from 1919 to 1924.[2][3][4]

Hendrik Mentz
Minister of Lands and Irrigation
In office
20 October 1915 – 8 February 1921
Prime MinisterLouis Botha (until 27 August 1919)
Jan Smuts
Preceded byHendrik Schalk Theron
Succeeded byDeneys Reitz
Minister of Defence
In office
3 September 1919 – 29 June 1924
Prime MinisterJan Smuts
Preceded byJan Smuts
Succeeded byFrederic Creswell
Personal details
Born(1877-08-08)8 August 1877
Wittebergen, Bethlehem, Orange Free State
Died3 June 1938(1938-06-03) (aged 60)
NationalitySouth African
Spouse(s)Gerty Roux (Died very young in the 1918 influenza epidemic.)
Esmé Fourie[1]
ChildrenSusie, Nell, Hennie, Dawie. (Dawie was only 2years old when his Mom died.)
ParentFather: David Joachim Mother: Johanna (nee) du Plooy
Military service
Allegiance South African Republic
 Union of South Africa
Years of service1899–1902 (Transvaal Commandos)
1914 –1915 (British Imperial Armies)
Battles/warsSecond Boer War:
Spioen kop
First World War:
South-West Africa Campaign

Second Boer warEdit

During the Second Boer War, Mentz fought under General Ben Viljoen in Natal, being involved in the siege of Ladysmith and the battles of Colenso and Spion Kop. At the end of the war he was serving as chief of staff to Assistant Commandant-General C. F. Beyers. Mentz was wounded three times during the war.[5][4]

Start of political careerEdit

After the war Mentz settled in Pietersburg, where he practised law and when the Transvaal Colony obtained responsible government in 1906 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly as a supporter of General Louis Botha. In 1910, with the formation of the Union of South Africa, he became the member of the House of Assembly for Soutpansberg.[5]

First World warEdit

At the beginning of the First World War and during the German South West Africa Campaign, Mentz served under Brigadier General M. W. Myburgh, who were among the South African troops that occupied Windhoek. He was appointed military governor of Windhoek by Louis Botha, whereafter his brigade joined the final advance on the north, which culminated in the surrender of the Germans. It was also the end of his military career.[2]

Cabinet MinisterEdit

Mentz was appointed Minister of Lands and Irrigation by Louis Botha in 1915, succeeding Hendrik Schalk Theron. In that capacity he did much to bring about the building of dams, which included the Hartbeespoort Dam and the Darlington Dam in the Sundays River. In 1920 Mentz succeeded General Jan Smuts as Minister of Defence, and in 1921 he attended the Imperial Conference in London. One of the consequences of the Imperial Conference was the abolition of the imperial military command in the Union of South Africa.[5]

The South African Naval Service, predecessor of the present South African Navy, was established on 1 April 1922. The Strike Craft SAS Hendrik Mentz of the South African Navy was named after him.[6] Mentz was defeated by Oswald Pirow in the parliamentary election of 1924, and also failed to gain election for the South African Party in 1929, whereafter he had devoted himself to sheep farming and to practising as a solicitor in Pretoria.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mentz Family descendants
  2. ^ a b c Uys, Ian (1992). South African Military Who's Who 1452-1992. Fortress Publishers. p. 153. ISBN 0-9583173-3-X.
  3. ^ Rosenthal, Eric, ed. (1966). South African Dictionary of National Biography. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. pp. 247–248.
  4. ^ a b C.J. Nöthling, E.M. Meyers (1982). "Leaders through the years (1912-1982)". Scientaria Militaria. 12 (2): 92.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c Kruger, D. W. (1977). Dictionary of South African biography: Vol III. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. p. 599. ISBN 0-624-00856-8. OCLC 20937.
  6. ^ Wessels, Andre. "The South African Navy during the years of conflict in Southern Africa 1966-1989" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
Government offices
Preceded by Minister of Defence (South Africa)
Succeeded by