FF Plus founder Constand Viljoen dies at age 86

The former South African Defence Force commander died earlier on Friday due to what's been described as natural causes.

 Founder of the Freedom Front Plus general Constand Viljoen. Picture: Picture: Twitter/@GroenewaldPJ

JOHANNESBURG – Founder of the Freedom Front Plus, general Constand Viljoen, has died at the age of 86.

The former South African Defence Force commander died earlier on Friday due to what's been described as natural causes.

Viljoen served as the principal staff officer to the chief of the South African Defence Force and was appointed as chief of the army in 1977. He succeeded Magnus Malan as chief of the SADF in 1980.

Viljoen laid a foundation for the FF Plus. In 1993, he and fellow retired apartheid generals formed the Afrikaner Volksfront (Afrikaner People's Front), an umbrella body for conservative Afrikaners. He split from them ahead of South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994, and established the FF Plus.

Party leader Pieter Groenewald said Vijoen would be remembered for playing a major role in ensuring a successful transition to democracy.

β€œThe most important thing is that he believed that a general leads from the back and not from the front, and he got some criticism for that. But, he got some respect and adoration from his troops at ground level.”