Breytenbach was born in 1933 and grew up in Bonnievale in the Cape Winelands. As an 18-year-old, he went to the offices of Die Burger where he was handed a camera and told that he could start as a photographer in 1951. For the better part of the next ten years, he worked as a news photographer on various South African publications before departing for the far-off city skylines of London (The Daily Express) and Europe (on assignment for news magazines including Paris Match and Bunte). He was one of the few photographers given permission in the 1960s by then prime minister John Vorster to photograph Nelson Mandela on Robben Island.
For the last three decades until his death in June 2019 he was self-employed and freelancing for various publications and television channels, doing mostly documentary film-making. Cloete Breytenbach’s historic photos of the Eoan Group have been published here by kind permission of his widow Brenda Breytenbach.