Educated at Citrusdal Primary School, then at the Boys’ High School, Paarl, he went to Cape Town University where he graduated as a doctor in 1946.
His medical career began at Groote Schuur Hospital. In 1947 he went to Keimos on the Orange River, 60 miles from the South-west Africa border, as a general practitioner and district surgeon. He spent 19 years there. In his spare time he studied political science, public administration and economics. He obtained a Bachelor of Art degree with Honours from the University of South Africa in 1964.
He entered Parliament by winning the seat for Gordonia, in the Kalahari Game Reserve Area in the north, at the general election on March 30, 1966. He was appointed Deputy Minister of Social Welfare and Pensions and of Coloured and Rehoboth Affairs in May 1970. He became Minister in July 1972 in the reshuffled cabinet.
His political career began in 1965 when he won a seat on the Keimos City Council. From 1957 to 1960 he was Mayor of Keimos and had a second term from 1963 to 1966. He branched out in 1960 as a member of the Executive Council of the Cape Municipal Union and in 1963 he became a member of the Management Committee of the United Municipal Association of South Africa.
A district surgeon who became fascinated by politics. He studied theory, taking a degree in political science. He gained practical experience by joining the local council and standing for mayor. Intelligent, ambitious and industrious, he jumped from the backbenches after four years to become a deputy minister and then two years later achieved full cabinet rank.