In the last eighteen months of his life Dag Hammarskj ld was taken up with two major African issues, the Congo and South Africa. In the Congo he organised a United Nations (UN) mission to stabilise the country as it threatened to collapse into chaos following decolonisation; in South Africa he tried to deal with the conflict situation after the Sharpeville massacre by engaging in discussions with the South African Prime Minister, Hendrik Verwoerd. For that purpose he made a long-delayed visit to South Africa in January 1961. What did he try to achieve through his contacts with the South African government, and what other significance did his visit have for the unfolding history of apartheid and the struggle against it? This paper will focus on these questions, while a more substantial version, with detailed references to the sources upon which it is based, will be presented to the Dag Hammarskj ld Foundation in mid-2011 as part of the commemorations marking fifty years since Hammarskj ld’s death.