CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) _ Deputy Justice Minister Gert Myburgh, a senior member of the National Party that ruled South Africa under apartheid, died Monday of a heart attack. He was 56.

Myburgh's death was unlikely to have any serious impact on President Nelson Mandela's government, in which the National Party is a junior partner to the president's African National Congress.

Mandela and Deputy President F.W. de Klerk, the National Party leader, announced the death in a joint statement. National Party officials said Myburgh showed no sign of poor health before he collapsed and died in his office in Pretoria.

Myburgh was a minor figure in National Party delegations that negotiated South Africa's transition from white minority rule to a multiracial democracy following Mandela's release from prison in 1990.

A member of parliament since 1977, Myburgh was named deputy minister of law and order under the last apartheid government in 1992 and held the post until the April 1994 elections that brought Mandela and the ANC to power.

Myburgh is survived by his wife Annetjie and two daughters. Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.