Obituaries and Tributes

The Right Livelihood Award
Patrick van Rensburg in October 2010, a laureate of the Right Livelihood Award.
(Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Schmidt and the Right Livelihood Foundation)

This is a Skype message from Tom Holzinger concerning Patrick’s service at the Kagiso mortuary in Mahalapye:-

‘I just had a long report of this morning’s service from Ditshwanelo Makwati, a Trustee of the Boiteko Trust. The Trust organised well-attended merapelo at the Kagiso Funeral Home in Serowe before the body was taken to Mahalapye in one vehicle, with another vehicle accompanying. Mr Raboloko, chair of the Trust, acted as MC. Mothusi and Joanna van Rensburg attended, and as did almost all of the Boiteko Trustees. There were hymns, a prayer from Josephine Gabonamong, and a homily from Joel Pelotona. Minister Pelonimi Venson-Moitoi was present from Gaborone, as were Methaetsile Leepile of Mmegi and Dr Gaborone from UB. Either Friday or the day before, Ditshwanelo Makwati had reported Patrick’s death to the main kgotla in Serowe at a meeting presided over by the principal Tribal Authority Sediegeng Kgamane. Although the kgotla was apparently not represented at this morning’s merapelo, a priority announcement of the memorial service will be made when the date is known.’

  • From The Ngami Times Edition 842   26  May – 2  June, 2017
Pat van Rensburg passes away

PicturePatrick van Rensburg

Well-respected Botswana educationalist Patrick van Rensburg passed away on Monday in Serowe aged 85 years old.

Van Rensburg, who was born on December 3, 1931 in Durban, South Africa, moved to Botswana in 1962 after fleeing the apartheid government.

In Botswana, Van Rensburg’s name became synonymous with the Brigades Movement, Foundation for Education with Production (FEP), and the founding of Mmegi newspaper.

Under the brigades movement he founded Swaneng Hill School in Serowe, Shashe River Senior Secondary School (Tonota), Madiba Senior Secondary School (Mahalapye), and Tshwaragano Cooperatives Society, (Serowe).

His FEP concept was eagerly taken up by the newly-independent Zimbabwe in the 1980s and is credited with having produced more technically-skilled individuals for that neighbouring country.  FEP is also active in South Africa.

​Prior to his relocation to Botswana in 1962, van Rensburg had worked as South Africa’s Vice-Consul in the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo) from February 1956 until May 1957, when he resigned as a protest against South Africa’s apartheid policies of racial discrimination.

He has three children, sons Mothusi and Thomas van Rensburg and a daughter, Joanna Forbes.

Patrick van Rensburg leaves behind books that include Guilty Land (1962;, Report from Swaneng Hill (1974; The Serowe Brigades: Alternative education in Botswana (1978); and with Andrew Boyd – Atlas of African Affairs; and  Making Education Work: The what, why and how of Education with Production.  He has also has written a number of titles for the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation of Sweden.

He was also a recipient of the 1981 Right Livelihood Award, with Bill Mollison and Mike Cooley.

You can add your own commemoration to Patrick in the ‘Comments’ section at the bottom of this page.


We have made every effort to make this website accurate but a document of this type is prone to mistakes and omissions, for which we apologise.  If you spot any errors let us know about them by contacting us here :- Contact


5 thoughts on “Obituaries and Tributes

  1. Patrick’s dedication to development and education in Botswana and elsewhere is inspirational. He showed great courage in his early years supported by Liz. Patrick had a clear vision and was also effective in achieving results. What a great Motswana we’ve lost. My condolences to the Family and Friends. Dafydd Gwylon (West Wales)


  2. The school with its multiple and varied offshoots is a living legacy of the deeply held human values expressed in the life’s work of a quite remarkable man. By example and practice those values have been widely acknowledged, and in the country of his adoption both admired and actively incorporated as integral components of the philosophy and practice of governance at local and national level.


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