Response to Gustav Pienaar’s “impressions” of The man who killed apartheid

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On 27 February, Mr Gustav Pienaar set out his opinion of my book, The man who killed apartheid, on LitNet, while on 19 January, he had done the same in Die Burger. They are the only negative reviews the book has received since it was published in November 2018, as it has been widely praised by both the Afrikaans and English media.

I would not normally respond to a hostile critique, even one from a clearly subjective viewpoint, provided it was fair and factual. However, Mr Pienaar’s tirades are both wildly inaccurate and factually misleading, and question the integrity not only of myself but of the five jurists who collaborated with me on this project. These were advocate George Bizos; professor and former judge at the International Court of Justice, John Dugard; Mr Krish Govender; former Durban state attorney and co-chairman of the Law Society of South Africa, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza; and retired Constitutional Judge Justice Zak Yacoob. His writings also impugn the honesty of the witnesses I interviewed. In a desperate attempt to discredit my research, Mr Pienaar has misquoted or misrepresented my arguments and dismissed incontestable and overwhelming evidence. He has acted exactly as Judge Van Wyk did with the Commission of Enquiry into Verwoerd’s assassination, and Attorney-General Van den Berg during Tsafendas’s summary trial, that is, he has ignored evidence which challenges his dubious arguments while manipulating truths to support them. For these reasons, I have decided to respond to Mr Pienaar in some detail.

To begin, Mr Pienaar refers to my having “a British arrogance” which upset him. I am sorry that he was upset, but, as my name might have told him, I am not British; I am Greek.

Mr Pienaar writes that my arguments and conclusions are “against all logic and common sense”. However, the five eminent jurists mentioned above, who evaluated a plethora of evidence, have endorsed those same arguments and conclusions. This evidence, and a report which I wrote – On the matter of Dr Verwoerd’s assassination, totalling 2 192 pages and 861 803 words – have been submitted to South Africa’s Minister of Justice, a significant development which Mr Pienaar does not mention in his articles.

Advocate Bizos characterised my report to the Minister as “monumental” and as “the most comprehensive study of apartheid and how it operated that I have ever seen … It is a mammoth enquiry into the steps taken by the government to declare him [Tsafendas] mad and to cover up his treatment …” He described the report as “of major historical importance for South Africa and for our understanding of Verwoerd’s assassination”. Mr Bizos described the evidence proving that Tsafendas was not insane – but politically motivated – in killing Dr Verwoerd, as “overwhelming and unquestionable”.

Professor Dugard stated that my research:

... confirms that there was a political cover-up in the Tsafendas case ... It shows convincingly that Tsafendas was a political revolutionary, whose assassination of Dr Verwoerd was motivated by a hatred of Dr Verwoerd and all he stood for. He was not an insane killer, but a political assassin determined to rid South Africa of the architect of apartheid. Political assassinations seldom achieve their goal, and this was no exception. But, at least, South African history should know the truth about Tsafendas. Dousemetzis has done South Africa a service by correcting the historical record.

Mr Pienaar claims that my book “largely relies” on “hearsay stories”, mainly from the Greek community, which he alleges has its own agenda, which is to declare Tsafendas a hero. In fact, all the important information – especially regarding Tsafendas’s political activities before the assassination, his summary trial, the Commission of Enquiry and his motive for killing Verwoerd – comes from archival sources.Every single fact is attributed to a source, and Mr Pienaar is well aware of this. I have no idea why he would suggest that these attested facts are hearsay. There is only one very important item that comes from witnesses’ testimonies, and that is Tsafendas’s attempt in 1994 to explain and justify the assassination. The joint source for this information was Father Minas Constandinou and Bishop Ioannis Tsaftaridis, and their words are not hearsay. They both told me what Tsafendas told them while he was in the Pretoria Central Prison hospital. What Tsafendas told these two priests was as follows:

Every day, you see a man you know committing a very serious crime for which millions of people suffer. You cannot take him to court or report him to the police, because he is the law in the country. Would you remain silent and let him continue with his crime, or would you do something to stop him? You are guilty not only when you commit a crime, but also when you do nothing to prevent it when you have the chance.

Is it remotely conceivable that the priests made this statement up? Apart from the fact that I have in my possession the recordings of all my interviews with all the witnesses who were interviewed for this research (and were also included in the evidence submitted to the Minister), Bishop Ioannis has said that he would be happy, as would all the witnesses I quote in the book, to testify under oath in any court as to the truth of what they told me. Father Minas is now dead, but Bishop Ioannis is very much alive, the Episcopal leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in Zambia and one of the most renowned and respected bishops of his church. Mr Pienaar is welcome to contact Bishop Ioannis directly for confirmation.

The book contains a massive amount of material taken from statements made by witnesses who were questioned by the police or the Commission of Enquiry into Dr Verwoerd’s assassination. I have used more than 100 such statements by people speaking about Tsafendas or describing incidents involving him. Their memories were fresh, because they were interviewed by the police and the Commission in the days immediately after the assassination. In these statements and in oral evidence, which Mr Pienaar ignores, Tsafendas is shown to be an entirely different person to the version which officialdom has fostered down the years – that of an apolitical idiot; the evidence demonstrates the extent of his political activism and sets out his ideology in detail, factors which have remained unknown to this day. For example, there is a statement by Edward Furness, who met Tsafendas in London in the early 1960s. In an interview with the police, he said that Tsafendas was a member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and had told him that he wanted to “create a resistance to the regime of South Africa”, and that he was willing to do “anything that would get the South African regime out of power”. The South African security authorities had four files on Tsafendas, while evidence submitted to the Commission of Enquiry stated that Tsafendas was planning to start an armed uprising in South Africa. A year and a half before the assassination, two witnesses, Nick Vergos and Father Hanno Probst, reported Tsafendas to the South African police as “a dangerous communist”. Mr Pienaar makes no reference to such information.

One of the most important revelations in the book is that the Portuguese security police in Mozambique, PIDE, had kept a file on Tsafendas since 1938 when he was 20 years old. This file shows that a year and a half before the assassination, he was arrested by the Portuguese police in Beira and accused of pretending to be a Christian missionary, while actually preaching “under the guise of religion in favour of Mozambique’s independence”. The most significant revelation is that two days after the assassination, the director of PIDE in Lisbon ordered his counterparts in Mozambique to withhold from the South African authorities “any information indicating Tsafendas as a partisan for the independence of Mozambique”, and that PIDE subsequently did withhold information as to the extent of Tsafendas’s political activities. A photograph of this document is included in the book, but Mr Pienaar again makes no reference to such information.

The archival evidence demonstrates clearly why Tsafendas assassinated Dr Verwoerd. He told Major Daniel Jacobus Rossouw, head of the security Police in Cape Town, who interrogated him on 11 September 1966, five days after the assassination:

I did believe that with the disappearance of the South African prime minister, a change of policy would take place. I did set myself the task of destroying the prime minister. It was my own idea to kill him. No one offered me any reward for doing so. I did not care about the consequences, or what would happen to me afterwards. I was so disgusted with the racial policy that I went through with my plans to kill the prime minister.

Tsafendas’s statement to Major Rossouw fits perfectly the definition of a political crime. A photograph of this quotation from Tsafendas’s statement is also included in the book. Once again, Mr Pienaar remains silent about such information.

The 11 September statement, as well as one he gave later to Major Rossouw, are of the greatest importance in revealing Tsafendas’s political ideas and motives. In both of them, Tsafendas speaks clearly and coherently, giving details of his life and career and a very detailed account of his movements before the assassination, as well as setting out the political reasons for killing Verwoerd. There is no mention of a tapeworm or of anything to suggest he was schizophrenic. Mr Pienaar is well aware of these facts, but makes no mention of them in his reviews. According to Professor John Dugard, Tsafendas statement “confirms the view that Tsafendas was not insane. It reads like a very normal story of a politically informed person, angry with apartheid and Dr Verwoerd, determined to make a change with nothing to lose personally -- really an incredible statement which was carefully concealed.”

Mr Pienaar questions the reliability of my archival research and finds it “suspicious”. However, instead of checking the archives in Pretoria or in Lisbon himself, he makes an entirely unfounded accusation and leaves it hanging. Furthermore, it has been clearly stated in the book that I have all the documents from the archives in digitised form, and that the five jurists who collaborated with me have seen them and evaluated them, while they have also all been submitted to the Minister of Justice. Mr Pienaar fails to mention this.

There are times when I wonder how closely Mr Pienaar has read my book. He states that Father Minas Constandinou was interviewed only once, and asks how he could have given so much information in a single conversation – this, despite my having stated clearly in the book’s Preface that I spoke to this priest, as well as to other witnesses, “at length and on an ongoing basis”.

In his article for LitNet, Mr Pienaar states that my conclusions imply that there was a widespread conspiracy involving the judiciary, the prosecuting authority and the defence, to find Tsafendas insane, while in Die Burger, he claims that I am suggesting that the “NP government and police, Dr Sakinofsky, Judge Beyers, Adv Cooper and all of Tsafendas’s expert witnesses were part of a conspiracy to find Tsafendas insane”. Similar comments have appeared on social media, clearly by people who have not read the book, since nowhere have I made any such statement or suggestion. The best that can be said for Mr Pienaar is that he is generalising in order to bolster a baseless accusation.

Mr Pienaar is offended by my characterisation of the summary trial as a “show trial”, which he considers “a serious charge against the South African legal system”. Readers with knowledge of the South African legal system during the apartheid years will find it hard not to laugh at this comment. A “show trial” is exactly what it was, and the person responsible was Attorney General Van den Berg. He would later lie about the evidence he had in his possession regarding Tsafendas, while during the summary trial he concealed, withheld and manipulated evidence in order to allow the defence’s claim that Tsafendas was apolitical and unfit to stand trial to go unchallenged, and also to misportray Tsafendas. He avoided challenging some of the defence witnesses when he had evidence he could have used, but I made a point of saying in the book that I could not be certain whether his attitude was caused by incompetence, or because he was not in possession of some of the evidence found by the police. Although both David Bloomberg and Wilfrid Cooper – Tsafendas’s attorney and advocate, respectively, during his summary trial – publicly expressed their surprise at the attorney general’s conduct during the trial, as mentioned in my book and in their own books, Mr Pienaar fails to refer to this fact in his various critiques. As for the police concealing evidence during a police investigation it was nothing unusual; as a matter of fact it was standard procedure in many cases. For example after the Sharpeville massacre the police went to the hospitals and removed the bodies of victims to hide the fact that the police had used the banned dum-dum bullets. Then the police conveniently “lost” evidence about the use of dum-dums and “misplaced” evidence as to the ammunition rounds issued.1As for the police concealing evidence during a police investigation it was nothing unusual; as a matter of fact it was standard procedure in many cases. For example after the Sharpeville massacre the police went to the hospitals and removed the bodies of victims to hide the fact that the police had used the banned dum-dum bullets. Then the police conveniently “lost” evidence about the use of dum-dums and “misplaced” evidence as to the ammunition rounds issued.2

Mr Pienaar has written that Judge Beyers requested advocate (and later Judge) Wilfrid Cooper to defend Tsafendas because he was a liberal and an opponent of apartheid. He is correct, but Beyers had already appointed David Bloomberg, a loyal supporter of apartheid and defender of Verwoerd’s policies, as Tsafendas’s lead attorney. Furthermore, had Mr Pienaar researched further, he would have discovered that advocate Cooper always believed there was more to the Tsafendas case than transpired in court, and indeed had doubts about the whole proceedings. When he retired as a judge, he began researching the Tsafendas case with a view to setting the facts straight, but he died before completing his task. Mr Gavin Cooper, Judge Cooper’s son, confirms this. He told me that his father would have been very pleased with my book, because I did what he had wished to do.

Nowhere in the book have I said that Judge Beyers, the defence witnesses or the defence team were responsible for the “show trial”. I praised Judge Beyers’s integrity in the court, and I stated clearly on page 281 that he “had judged Tsafendas based on the evidence presented to him”. On the other hand, Judge Van Wyk – unlike Beyers – wrote his report of the Commission of Enquiry based on evidence he had in his possession, and he undoubtedly withheld and manipulated evidence to misportray Tsafendas. This is amply proven by evidence set out in the book, all of it from the Commission’s document in the National Archives. The five jurists and I plan to submit all this evidence to the Court so that it can officially set aside the findings of this disgraceful Commission.

Mr Pienaar writes that the state had put together an “impressive team of witnesses to prove that Tsafendas is accountable”, and that this “does not match the ‘conspiracy theory’”. I do not know where Mr Pienaar saw this, because nowhere in the book is there such a claim. The state produced no witnesses to prove that Tsafendas was fit to stand trial; it produced no witnesses to challenge the defence. Both the state’s witnesses testified that they had found Tsafendas unfit to stand trial, and that they were in agreement with the defence witnesses. I have clearly reported the defence’s surprise when both the state’s witnesses testified that they were agreeing with the defence’s witnesses! Gavin Cooper, in a book about his father, and David Bloomberg’s biography confirm this. All this is mentioned in the book, but not by Mr Pienaar in his review.

What is most preposterous about Mr Pienaar’s position is his indignation over what he interprets as an attack on the apartheid legal system, as if this were an honoured and just institution, or as if I were the first person ever to make such accusations! It seems that Mr Pienaar has forgotten – or is unaware of – the outcome of Steve Biko’s first inquest; that the lies and inaccuracies of the Commission of Inquiry into the Sharpeville massacre were exposed by the TRC; that, in 1986, Nicholas Haysom exposed the bias and inaccuracy of the Kannemeyer Commission of Enquiry into the Langa shootings; and that Ahmed Timol’s inquest verdict was reversed by a court just two years ago. The list of such disgraceful cases of “justice” during apartheid is endless, but Mr Pienaar attempts to defend the undefendable. I would also like to remind Mr Pienaar here that during apartheid, although this did not happen with Tsafendas’s case, doctors often conspired with the police to conceal crimes. For example, Drs Ivor Lang and Benjamin Tucker falsified Steve Biko’s medical records after they examined him while he was in detention and shortly before he died.3 As result Dr Land was stripped of his medical qualifications4 and the South African Medical Association was expelled from the World Medical Association.5

In his article in Die Burger, Mr Pienaar writes that Dr Isaac Sakinofsky was the first to examine Tsafendas, and found him to be mentally disturbed. He is correct, but Dr Sakinofsky also told the court that Tsafendas “denied passivity feelings” at that time. He went on to explain that passivity feelings were an influence which the patient interpreted as being due to an external agency. “For instance, if a patient believes that his body has been changed by hypnosis or by computers, or some­thing like that – or by an enemy – this would be passivity ... that one’s will is taken over, one’s thoughts are tampered with, one’s body functions are interfered with by an external agency.” Thus, Tsafendas did not believe at the time that he had a tapeworm. Furthermore, Dr Sakinofsky urged the court to appoint a forensic psychiatrist to examine Tsafendas, since neither he nor others who examined him were such. He said, “My feeling, if I may say so in this place, is that in a matter of crimi­nal trial, the forensic psychiatrists should be called by the court.” His advice was ignored. All this is mentioned in the book, but not by Mr Pienaar in his review.

Mr Pienaar seems to suggest that there is a conspiracy involving the five jurists, eight Greek Orthodox priests, members of the Greek community in South Africa and me to declare Tsafendas a national hero. Contrary to the Greek community having any such agenda, the book makes clear that Tsafendas was and still is a dirty name with most South African Greeks. As can be seen in the final chapter, the Greek community in 1994 repeatedly denied Tsafendas a place in its old people’s home and, in 1999, did everything possible to prevent him having a Greek Orthodox funeral and burial in the family grave in Pretoria; indeed, some Greeks threatened the Greek Orthodox priest who was willing to bury Tsafendas. It should be noted that while I have been interviewed by a wide number of South African media houses, no Greek journalist or media in South Africa has asked me for an interview. Furthermore, most of the Greeks who were interviewed for this research have no connection whatsoever with South Africa. As for Mr Pienaar’s claim regarding the eight priests (two of them have absolutely no connection with any of the other six priests, and have never even spoken to them; one is in Istanbul, and one in Hamburg) and the five jurists being part of such a conspiracy, this is so ludicrous that it does not even need a response.

I have also stated clearly in the book that, to examine Tsafendas’s state of mind and the examination process of those who examined him while he was in detention, I consulted the following leading scientists: Professor Tuviah Zabow, forensic psychiatrist, former head of the forensic psychiatry unit at Valkenberg Hospital, and former professor of psychiatry at the University of Cape Town; Professor Alban Burke, head of the department of psychology at the University of Johannesburg; Professor Kirk Heilbrun, forensic psychologist and professor of psychology at Drexler University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Professor Phillip Resnick, forensic psychiatrist, professor of psychiatry and director of the division of forensic psychiatry at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio; and Professor Robert L Sadoff, clinical professor of psychiatry and director of the centre for studies in social-legal psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, and former president of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, as well as of the American Board of Forensic Psychiatry. What I wrote about Tsafendas’s mental state is based on what these scientists told me. Did these five scientists (three of them Americans who had never heard of Tsafendas) also conspire with me? Or, did they formulate a plan to have Tsafendas declared sane and a hero? None of them is a communist, Mr Pienaar, and three of them have no connection at all with South Africa. Mr Pienaar makes no mention of any of these names in his reviews, or of the comments they made about Tsafendas’s state of mind and the inappropriate way in which he was examined.

As for the pre-trial examinations, none of the psychiatrists who saw Tsafendas were forensic psychiatrists. Dr Sakinofsky told me in a personal interview that “in psychiatry, after one has interviewed a patient, it is best practice to seek collateral information from family, friends and medical records”. Mr Reyner van Zyl, a psychologist who examined Tsafendas on behalf of the defence, as well as Professors Tuviah Zabow, Alban Burke, Robert L Sadoff, Kirk Heilbrun and Phillip Resnick, all of whom spoke to me, emphasised that to make an accurate diagnosis in such a case, one needs additional information from sources outside the patient; all agreed on the importance of information held by people who knew Tsafendas personally, and looking at his medical and criminal record. However, none of the psychiatrists had access to such information, and all based their diagnoses entirely on what Tsafendas told them during three 90-minute interviews. Thus, although Tsafendas was known to the South African authorities to have faked illness at least twice in the past, this crucial information was not given to those who examined him, while none of his examiners spoke to anyone who knew him. Only Dr Sakinofsky searched for additional third-party information and Tsafendas’s medical record, and managed, on his own initiative, to get Tsafendas’s medical records from a hospital in Hamburg.

Dr Harold Cooper, the defence’s main witness, testified in the court, “I made a diagnosis of schizophrenia on the basis of my interviews with him [Tsafendas], but in order to try and add either supportive or negative evidence towards this diagnosis, I felt it essential to elicit a history from him and try and decide whether the history I obtained from him was consistent with my impression of him suffering from schizophrenia.” What Dr Cooper was saying, in essence, was that he formed his conclusions, in the first place, on what Tsafendas told him, and that to seek confirming or contrary evidence, he went back and asked his patient himself. Thus, he based his diagnosis entirely on what Tsafendas told him, and had no way of knowing whether what he said was true or not. Dr Cooper was keen on obtaining more information about Tsafendas, but he was discouraged by the police, who told him that this was a “straightforward case”. This led Dr Cooper to have serious misgivings about the whole procedure, and to wonder whether the authorities were perhaps covering up their lax security procedures and pressing for Tsafendas to be declared insane so that they could avoid any responsibility for the assassination.

Like his confrères, Dr MacGregor told the court that he had based his diagnosis on what Tsafendas had told him, without the opportunity to check whether or not his statements were true. He told the court, “I thought I had to – time was a little bit precious – I had to take shortcuts. I accepted what was given to me about this man’s life history, various dates and to which countries he had been.”

Mr Van Zyl, asked by me whether he had seen Tsafendas’s medical records or whether he had any information from people who knew him, replied:

No, no, no, we were just told, we were told, or I was told – the group of guys who examined him – that he had been in various mental hospitals all over the world … Yes. Well, you know, we were given this information – that he was a disturbed, schizophrenic man … And that was the background that we had available, and nothing else. The third part [the medical reports] was given to us almost in summary. He has been to this hospital, that hospital, that hospital … I think three or four were mentioned – various hospitals overseas.

All five scientists I consulted agreed that no such examination process would carry weight in a court today; they disagreed with the method used by those who examined Tsafendas, and were surprised that the doctors relied only on what they were told by him. Professor Kirk Heilbrun, for example, told me that if he had examined Tsafendas for such a case:

I would have sought information from the second and third domains [collateral interviews with people who knew Tsafendas and his medical and criminal records], rather than additional information from the first domain [Tsafendas].

All five scientists do not believe it possible to make an accurate diagnosis about a patient, especially in a forensic and complex case like this, simply by listening to the accused over three 90-minute sessions without additional information. All this conclusive evidence as to Tsafendas’s state of mind is set out in the book, but Mr Pienaar makes no reference to it, referring only to an imaginary conspiracy involving the doctors, psychiatrists, jurists and witnesses.

Mr Pienaar refers to Tsafendas’s many hospitalisations, but fails to explain that Tsafendas invariably admitted himself or secured a hospital place to escape further punishment in custody. More importantly, he ignores what is clear in the book – that the South African authorities were well aware that Tsafendas had faked mental illness in the past at least twice, so as to secure his release from custody. This did not become known during the summary trial, but one of these attempts is mentioned in the report by the Commission of Enquiry (Chapter II B, Paragraph 10).

Furthermore, the book states clearly, with the support of archival evidence, that nine South African doctors had examined Tsafendas from late 1963 until shortly before the assassination, and all found him to be perfectly sane. Again, this important fact was not told to the court or given to the psychiatrists. Mr Pienaar does not bother mentioning it in his review.

Mr Pienaar claims that I have misunderstood the legal proceedings. The five jurists who collaborated with me, all renowned law professionals, do not agree with this, and, on the contrary, have praised my analysis and evaluation of the evidence. May I suggest that Mr Pienaar access Amazon’s Canadian outlet and consult a review of the book by Timothy Christian, QC, a retired Canadian judge and professor emeritus at the faculty of law at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. He wrote:

The man who killed apartheid traces the painful story of Tsafendas’s life, and by carefully presenting the evidence, completely unravels the lies of the South African authorities. This is an important book because it corrects a big lie, and may help to resolve a historic injustice. Whether or not one agrees that the murder of a tyrant can be justified, it is clear that the lies of a racist regime cannot. Harris Dousemetzis and Gerry Loughran set the record straight, and for that we are grateful (

Another part of my book which Mr Pienaar seems to have misunderstood (to put it charitably) concerns certain remarks Tsafendas made about Dr Verwoerd, for example, calling him a “tyrant”, a “dictator” and “Hitler’s best student”. Mr Pienaar claims that these remarks are mentioned only by Father Constandinou, when I have stated clearly that Tsafendas used them widely. Indeed, his characterisation of Verwoerd as “Hitler’s best student” – because he had copied some of the Nuremberg Laws and applied them to black South Africans – was a trademark phrase, and tens of witnesses have testified to his use of those words. In this connection, I referred to at least 16 people by name, and, if Mr Pienaar has not noticed them, they were Bishop Ioannis Tsaftaridis, Father Nikola Banovic, Katerina Pnefma, Andreas Babiolakis, Nick Papadakis, Mary Eendracht, Fotini Gavasiadis, Cleanthes Alachiotis, Panteleimon Aspiotis, Nikolaos Billis, Nikolas Kambouris, Georgios Kantas, Emanuil Mastromanolis, Vasilis Perselis, Grigoris Pouftis and Michalis Vasilakis.

Mr Pienaar claims not to be an apologist for apartheid, so why does he defend its racist criminal leaders? In pursuing racist and brutal policies, Malan, Strijdom, Verwoerd, Vorster, Botha and their political supporters were committing a crime against humanity, as apartheid was declared to be by the United Nations in 1974. They were responsible for the deaths and torture of thousands of people, and the enslavement of all the black people of South Africa. In an ideal world, they would have been brought before the International Court of Justice and imprisoned for their crimes.

Mr Pienaar attacks me for accusing Verwoerd and Vorster and their ilk of being Nazis and anti-Semites. This is like complaining about someone accusing Hitler of being racist. It seems that for Mr Pienaar someone who is racist “only” against blacks is less bad than someone who is racist against blacks and Jews. Referring to my description of Verwoerd as “a tool of the Nazis”, Mr Pienaar claims that this was a characterisation delivered by “one Hughes” in 1961. Unfortunately for Mr Pienaar, this characterisation comes from 1941. This was in the course of a dispute between Verwoerd – editor, at the time, of Die Transvaler – and the English-language newspaper The Star. In an editorial entitled “Speaking up for Hitler”, The Star accused Dr Verwoerd of falsifying the news to promote Nazi Germany’s cause in the Second World War.6 The Star set out a list of stories published by Die Transvaler, all of which carried errors which reflected positively on the Axis powers. It highlighted Die Transvaler’s version of a report by the South African Information Bureau on how the Nazi regime had promised not to interfere with South African affairs, but had in fact done so. Die Transvaler omitted the main point of a broken promise, and reported only the Nazis’ reference to non-interference. The Star said that such dishonesty identified Die Transvaler closely with Nazi propaganda, making it “a tool of malignant forces from which this country has everything to fear”.7 Dr Verwoerd sued for defamation, demanding damages of £15 000. However, The Star mounted a robust defence, and the case was dismissed, with costs awarded against Dr Verwoerd. Judge Philip Millin ruled that “on the evidence, he, Dr Verwoerd, is not entitled to complain. He did support Nazi propaganda, he did make his paper a tool of the Nazis in South Africa, and he knew it.”8 Thus, it was Judge Millin who convicted Verwoerd and declared him to be a “tool of the Nazis” in 1941, and not someone named Hughes 20 years later.

It is interesting to note that, also in 1941, when the Nazi war machine appeared unstoppable, Verwoerd, according to the New York Times,“triumphantly headlined every Nazi victory and rallied against ‘British-Jewish liberalism’”.9 On 8 August of that year, Verwoerd wrote, “The Afrikaner honours Germany’s achievements in many fields.”10

In defending Verwoerd against charges of anti-Semitism, Mr Pienaar seems to be unaware, although it is clearly stated in the book, that during the 1930s, Verwoerd campaigned energetically against permitting Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany to enter South Africa.11 In 1936, a chartered ship, the SS Stuttgart,reached Cape Town with 500 German Jewish refugees.12 Verwoerd led an angry campaign to keep the refugees out, arguing that Jewish immigration would lead to the “downfall” of South Africa.13 As well as addressing large anti-Semitic protest rallies in the Cape area,14 Verwoerd presented a formal case against the refugees’ admission to the then Hertzog-Smuts government.15 His arguments were accepted, and the government denied the refugees permission to land.16 Later that year, 75 German Jews arrived aboard the ship Guilio Cesare,and Verwoerd protested successfully again.17 To suggest that Verwoerd was not anti-Semitic must appear particularly bizarre to anyone reading his first editorial in Die Transvaler on 1 October 1937, which sought to present the “Jewish issue” not as a race problem, but as a question of economics. Dauntingly entitled “The Jewish problem regarded from a Nationalist point of view: A possible solution: Proportional distribution in trades and businesses the first great necessity”,18 the article proposed a solution. Verwoerd suggested that because the involvement of Jews in business harmed Afrikaners economically, there should be a quota system that would bar Jews until they comprised not more than 5% of South Africa’s commerce and industry (ewewigte verspreiding).19 He also denounced Jews as an obstacle to the Afrika­ners’ economic well-being.20 I argue that the incontestable facts outlined above give me every right to characterise Verwoerd as anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi.

In an attempt to refute my characterisation of Vorster as an anti-Semite and pro-Nazi, Mr Pienaar states that Vorster once visited Israel! True, but this was only because he wanted Israeli co-operation for the development of nuclear weapons. There is an excellent book about it, The unspoken alliance: Israel’s secret relationship with apartheid South Africa, by Sasha Polakow-Suransky.  Mr Pienaar’s “evidence” in support of Vorster is so ludicrous that it is like someone saying that Hitler was not so bad because he was vegetarian and did not kill animals. Furthermore, it is a well-known fact that Vorster was not only a fanatical Nazi supporter, but also a leading member of South Africa’s own pro-Nazi paramilitary organisation, the Ossewabrandwag. He first became a “stormjaer” (storm trooper)21 when aged 25 in 1941, and later was appointed as a “general” in the Port Elizabeth district.22 In 1942, he said of the OB, “We stand for Christian nationalism, which is an ally of National Socialism. You can call this anti-democratic dictatorship if you wish. In Italy, it is called fascism; in Germany, National Socialism; and in South Africa, Christian nationalism”23. Later that year, after expressing his admiration for Adolf Hitler and his contempt for democracy, Vorster was arrested as a Nazi agent and spent fourteen months in an internment camp at Koffiefontein in the Orange Free State.24

According to K Asmal, L Asmal and RS Roberts’s Reconciliation through truth: A reckoning of apartheid’s criminal governance (1996; Cape Town: David Philip Publisher: 32–7), Vorster and Piet Meyer – as well as other leading members of the apartheid government, such as Eric Louw – were ardent supporters of Nazi ideals; furthermore, Louw, foreign minister at the time of South Africa’s republican referendum, explicitly compared Hitler’s plans for the Jews with the South African nationalist plans for blacks.

Mr Pienaar goes to great lengths not only to defend, but also to praise, apartheid propagandist Piet Meyer! He claims that what I wrote about naming his son Izan (being for “Nazi” spelled backwards) is unfounded, and he takes offence that I called him pro-Nazi. Mr Pienaar is aware that I cited two sources for the information regarding naming his son Izan (Booth, D (1998) The race game: Sport and politics in South Africa, Frank Cass Publishers, p 38; and Frye, W (1970) In whitest Africa: The dynamics of apartheid, Prentice-Hall Inc, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, p 100). Furthermore, Meyer served as propaganda chief of the OB25, and, in 1934, while touring in Germany, he met several Nazi officials and went skiing with Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s chief of staff 26, in order to meet his idol, Adolph Hitler, up close.27

Mr Pienaar then spends a substantial number of words praising Meyer’s efforts with the SABC. However, he says nothing at all about the SABC’s role as both sword and shield for apartheid, promoting the ideology as a form of governance that was widely accepted in South Africa, while blocking the ears of South Africans to criticism of the government. By switching to FM broadcasting, the corporation ensured that its listeners heard little of the international outcry that arose after the Sharpeville massacre, and, without competitors, it generally shaped and distorted the news as it pleased. When Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in 1968, the SABC chose to present his death in blatantly racist terms. Its 7 am news bulletin said: “Widespread rioting has broken out in the United States following the assassination of the Negro civil rights agitator, Martin Luther King.”28 Mr Pienaar also makes no reference to the fact that Verwoerd banned television in South Africa on the grounds that it was a “corrupting medium”, and that the country thus became one of the last in the world to introduce a national TV service in the 1970s.29 I have to admit, though, that Mr Pienaar has the decency not to hide where his political sympathies lie, as he has posted on his Facebook account a picture of himself proudly posing behind Vorster, while there are also two pictures of Dr Verwoerd.

Mr Pienaar questions the credibility of my published sources, which he characterises mostly as propagandist material from “the notorious British Anti-Apartheid Movement”. He regrets that I did not use more “balanced” reviews of Verwoerd’s life. Perhaps, he would have preferred me to use more of JJJ Scholtz’s adoring biography, instead, which has been widely characterised as a hagiography of Verwoerd! Mr Pienaar does not specify which of my facts or descriptions are inaccurate, or which of my sources are unreliable. In fact, I made little use in my text of publications by the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the International Defence and Aid Fund. I used them primarily to learn about cases of torture and deaths in detention at the hands of the apartheid police, at a time when such cases were not widely reported. The truth of these reports was subsequently confirmed by the TRC and other later publications, so Mr Pienaar’s claim holds no weight.

Mr Pienaar calls into question my claim that Verwoerd believed that his life was saved by God’s intervention, and that he saw this as proof that God approved his policies. My argument is based on Verwoerd’s own words, which Mr Pienaar does not quote. The following excerpt from my book speaks for itself:

Naturally, he attributed his survival to divine intervention. When the leader of the opposition, Sir De Villiers Graaf, visited him in hospital, Verwoerd argued that his survival was proof that God had marked him out to continue as national leader, steering the policy of apartheid ...30 He saw himself not just as a leader but as a victim, telling another visitor, Major Richter, that he was “just one of the martyrs of the Afrikaner nation”. 31 Verwoerd spelled his thoughts out to his wife, Betsie, as follows: “I heard the shots and then I realised that I could still think, and I knew that I had been spared to complete my life’s work.”32 In his first public speech after the shooting, a radio broadcast on 20 May, Verwoerd referred to “my conviction that the protection of Divine Providence was accorded me with a purpose, a purpose which concerns South Africa, too. May it be given to me to fulfil that task faithfully.”33

Now, let us check where Mr Pienaar is partly correct. He mentions that it would have been quite a detour for Tsafendas to walk through the end of Hout Street in Cape Town via the Gardens to the Parliament. He suggests that I invented this so that I could use one of Verwoerd’s most infamous quotes. I wrote, and Mr Pienaar quoted: “There were no black or brown people, for had not Dr Verwoerd specifically declared a few years earlier that such people should not be allowed ‘to graze’ at ‘the green pastures of European society? There was, he had said, ‘no place for them in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour’.” I do not know exactly how Tsafendas went to Parliament that day, but it is a fact that he was in Hout Street, where he bought the knives (as stated by himself to the police, and confirmed by other witnesses), and that he ended his journey in Parliament, where he worked. Now, Tsafendas also told Father Constandinou and Bishop Tsaftaridis that when he went to Parliament, he passed through the Gardens, where there were public benches with the sign “Europeans only”. I cannot state with certainty that Tsafendas went through the Gardens on that fateful day, but he often said that whenever he went to Parliament, he saw those benches, which upset him. As for inventing the walk so that I could drag in Verwoerd’s quote, as Mr Pienaar suggests, clearly I could have used this quote anywhere; there was no absolute need to do it here. Mr Pienaar is correct in saying that I could not have known for certain that there were no black people in the Gardens that day, as I wrote, and that therefore this was an assumption on my part. True, but come on, Mr Pienaar! Was it remotely possible that at that time in South Africa, any black person would disobey such a notice and challenge police and security in the precincts of Parliament itself?

Mr Pienaar challenges me on Verwoerd’s reported remark that black and brown people should not be allowed to graze at the green pastures of European society, claiming that this was a misquotation from a speech that is often distorted. First of all,the most astonishing thing is that Mr Pienaar cannot even get the facts regarding Dr Verwoerd right; he wrote that this speech was made in 1953, while, according to Pelzer’s “Verwoerd Speaks” (p 64–85), Verwoerd gave this speech on 7 June 1954. Going back to the quote, the truth is that in several academic books about South Africa which I consulted, the quote appears the way I used it, while in AN Pelzer’s book Verwoerd speaks: Speeches 1948–66 (Johannesburg: APB Publishers), it appears slightly differently. The following is Pelzer’s version (p 83–4):

Up till now he has been subjected to a school system which drew him away from his own community and practically misled him by showing him the green pastures of the European but still did not allow him to graze there.


Until now he has been subjected to a school system which drew him away from his own community and misled him by showing him the green pastures of European society in which he was not allowed to graze (for example: Dubow, S (2014) Apartheid 1948–1994, Oxford: Oxford Histories, p 55–6; O’Meara, D (1996) Forty lost years: The apartheid state and the politics of the National Party 1948–1994,Randburg: Ravan Press, p 72; and tens of other scholars).

However, even assuming that Pelzer’s version is the correct one, Verwoerd’s remarks during the speech Mr Pienaar refers to are scarcely less racist. According to Pelzer, this is what Verwoerd said:

It is the policy of my department that education should have its roots entirely in the Native areas and in the Native environment and Native community. There, Bantu education must be able to give itself complete expression, and there it will have to perform its real service. The Bantu must be guided to serve his own community in all respects. There is no place for him in the Euro­pean community above the level of certain forms of labour. Within his own community, however, all doors are open. For that reason, it is of no avail for him to receive a training which has as its aim absorption in the European community, while he cannot and will not be absorbed there. Up till now, he has been subjected to a school system which drew him away from his own community and practically misled him by showing him the green pastures of the European, but still did not allow him to graze there. This attitude is not only uneconomic, because money is spent on educa­tion which has no specific aim, but it is even dishonest to continue with it. The effect on the Bantu community we find in the much-discussed frustration of educated Natives who can find no employ­ment which is acceptable to them. It is abundantly clear that un­planned education creates many problems, disrupts the communal life of the Bantu and endangers the communal life of the European.

In truth, Dr Verwoerd made many more extreme remarks than these, demonstrating his ideology on the matter of race, but they are hard to find in the “balanced” works that Mr Pienaar suggests I should have consulted when writing about apartheid and its “achievements”. For example, in a 20 October 1960 interview with the German magazine Die Zeit, Dr Verwoerd posed the extraordinary question:

Why should the Afrikaner suffer because our forefathers did not shoot the blacks? The experiences of our ancestors in this country were rather similar to those of the Americans and the Indians. But, while the Americans annihilated the Indians as they advanced through the continent, the Boers allowed the blacks to live. Should we now suffer because our ancestors behaved in such a Christian and humane fashion? No, I tell you, this is a White country, and any concessions to the Blacks only means demands for fresh concessions. It would be absurd to turn the Blacks into imitations of Europeans and force a Western type democracy upon them. We plan to develop them along their own lines, using their own traditional communities and tribal chieftains.34

On another matter, Mr Pienaar is wrong when he claims that I wrote that Vorster was “elected” as Verwoerd’s successor when it is known that he was chosen unanimously. In fact, I used the word “selected”, not “elected” (“selected by his party to be the new prime minister”). I am well aware that Vorster was selected and that no vote took place, and I have also referred extensively to the incident in my report to the Minister.

Mr Pienaar points out that I did not have the advantage of meeting Tsafendas, apparently implying that this somehow subverts my work. Without making outrageous comparisons, this is like saying that Martin Gilbert’s monumental 1 008-page biography of Winston Churchill is less worthy because Gilbert never met Churchill, or that the many commentaries on the Christian Bible are questionable because the authors never met Jesus Christ. Let us suppose I had met Tsafendas, however. I can assure Mr Pienaar that such an encounter would have been of no benefit to me, because Tsafendas, while in prison and in hospital, was very distrustful of people, something I made crystal clear in the book. For example, although he knew Father Minas Constandinou very well from 1963 onwards, it took Tsafendas more than 15 years to open up to him about the assassination, and this was only after apartheid had collapsed.

In further reference to Tsafendas, Mr Pienaar remarks that a collector showed him Tsafendas’s pocket Bible, which he claimed to have bought from his family. I am afraid I have bad news for the collector. As I stated clearly in the book, citing several witnesses, Tsafendas’s family burned all of his notes, pictures and books immediately after the assassination, fearing that the house would be searched. If there had been a Bible with Tsafendas’s handwriting, it would have been first into the flames as proof that Tsafendas had been there. After reading what Mr Pienaar said, I spoke to all of Tsafendas’s living relatives, and all denied that such a Bible exists, and agreed that even if it did, they would never have sold it to a collector. The truth of the matter, as I stated in the book, is that Tsafendas’s pocket Bible was confiscated by the police after his arrest.

Finally, I admit that some points in Mr Pienaar’s criticism are correct. Yes, there are some spelling mistakes in the book (actually more than those he noted), and there is also a duplication of three pages in the bibliography. I was not aware of this latter error until Mr Pienaar pointed it out, and I thank him for this. Thus, the bibliography is not 16 pages, but 13. None of these mistakes is mine, but neither do they affect the accuracy of the book’s contents or Tsafendas’s story in any way.

Mr Pienaar was well aware that I was scheduled to talk at Woordfees on 2 March, but instead of coming to challenge me, two days before the event he decided to publish this review. I am planning to attend the Franschhoek Literary Festival this May, and I welcome Mr Pienaar and anyone else who wishes to challenge my conclusions or my evidence to engage with me there.

On a personal note, I find it scarcely credible that someone living in South Africa in 2019 would defend the known criminals of the apartheid era and take offence when something negative is written about them. On the other hand, I understand that it is not possible for everyone, especially apartheid nostalgics, to accept the facts regarding Tsafendas and apartheid. This is hardly surprising in light of the continued existence of Holocaust deniers. Mr Pienaar has lived in South Africa for some 60 years, and I would hope that, in time, he will join with the vast majority of Afrikaners in accepting apartheid’s crimes and embracing the values of democracy, human rights and justice.

To conclude, no matter how vigorously Mr Pienaar and others of like mind may protest, apartheid has gone down in history as an egregious crime against humanity – an evil, brutal, inhuman and barbaric system which ranks with the worst that humanity has ever devised. The names of those who implemented the policy are listed among the worst of history’s criminals, and nothing said in their defence today will ever change that. Even those who supported apartheid without necessarily facilitating it, or who simply remained silent, must share the guilt of participation. As for Tsafendas, the moment when he takes his rightful place in history is approaching, and nothing his opponents can say will change that, either.

I have gone into considerable detail in countering Mr Pienaar’s criticism of my book, because I believe that he deserves a full and thoughtful reply, but also because criticism of this sort vilifies the memory of Dimitri Tsafendas himself. My aim has always been to resolve a historic injustice, and everything I write is targeted to that end. I believe this article answers the issues raised by Mr Pienaar, and I do not expect to write such a rebuttal again or to engage further with him online.

Harris Dousemetzis

10 March 2019


1 Frankel, P. (2001) An Ordinary Atrocity: Sharpeville and Its Massacre. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p: 147-8; 154-6.

2 Frankel, P. (2001) An Ordinary Atrocity: Sharpeville and Its Massacre. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p: 147-8; 154-6.

3 Dowdall, T.L. (1991) “Repression, Health Care and Ethics under Apartheid.” Journal of Medical Ethics, 1991, 17, Supplement 51-54, p: 52.

4 Nicholas, L.J. (2014) “Psychological Sequelae of Political Imprisonment during Apartheid.” South African Journal of Psychology, 2014, Vol. 44 (1) 18-29, p: 20.

5 Baxter, L.C. (1985) “Doctors on Trial: Steve Biko, Medical Ethics, and the Courts.” South African Journal on Human Rights, 137-151 (1985), p: 137-138.

6 The New York Times, 25 July 1985: 22, “Many of South Africa’s leaders were pro-Nazi”; Burger, M (1961) Dr Verwoerd of South Africa: Architect of doom, Christian Action pamphlet, p 13; Gloucestershire Echo, 14 July 1943: 1, “£15 000 libel claim result”; Hepple, A (1967) Verwoerd, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, p 215; Kenney, H (1980) Architect of apartheid: HF Verwoerd – An appraisal, Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers, p 64; Paton, A (1965) South African tragedy: The life and times of Jan Hofmeyr, Oxford University Press, p 292–3; Uys, S (1959) “Dr Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, prime minister of South Africa”, Africa South, Jan-Mar 1959, p 5; Vatcher, WH (1965) White Laager: The rise of Afrikaner nationalism, London: Pall Mall Press, p 64.

7 Fobi, BT (2014) The engineers of history: Hendrik Verwoerd, George Wallace and the power of historical memory, PhD thesis, Yale University, p 91–2.

8 Burger, Dr Verwoerd of South Africa: Architect of doom, p 13; Gloucestershire Echo, 14 July 1943: 1, “£15 000 libel claim result”; Hepple, 1967: 215; Kenney, 1980: 64; Paton, A (1965) South African tragedy: The life and times of Jan Hofmeyr, Oxford University Press, p 292–3; The New York Times, 25 July 1985: 22, “Many of South Africa’s leaders were pro-Nazi”; Uys, S (1959) “Dr Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, prime minister of South Africa”, Africa South, Jan–Mar 1959, p 5; Vatcher, WH (1965) White laager: The rise of Afrikaner nationalism, London: Pall Mall Press, p 64.

9 The New York Times, 7 September 1966: 16, “Dr Verwoerd: Relentless advocate of apartheid”.

10 Mzimela, SE (1980) Nazism and apartheid: The role of Christian churches in Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, PhD thesis, New York University, p 101.

11 Beyers, CJ (ed) (1981) Dictionary of South African biography, Vol 4, HSRC Press, p 731; Foster, D (1991) “Race and racism in South African psychology”, South African Journal of Psychology, Dec 1991, Vol 21, No 4, p 203–10.

12 Citino, R (1991) Germany and the Union of South Africa in the Nazi period, New York: Greenwood Press, p 77–8; Hellig, J (2009) “German Jewish immigration to South Africa during the 1930s: Revisiting the charter of the SS Stuttgart”, Jewish Culture and History, Vol 11, Issue 1–2, p 124–38.

13 Henkes, B (2016) “Shifting identifications in Dutch-South African migration policies (1910–1961)”, South African Historical Journal, Vol 68, Issue 4, p 11.

14 Moodie, TD (1975) The rise of Afrikanerdom, Berkley: University of California Press, p 166.

15 Bunting, B (1986, originally published in 1968) The rise of the South African Reich, London: International Defence and Aid Fund for South Africa, p 60–1; Furlong, PJ (1991) Between crown and swastika: The impact of the radical right on the Afrikaner nationalist movement in the fascist era, Hanover and London: Wesleyan University Press, p 61–4; Troup, F (1975) South Africa: An historical introduction, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, p 318; Uys, S (Africa South), Jan–Mar 1959: 1, “Dr Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, prime minister of South Africa”.

16 Hellig, J (2009) “German Jewish immigration to South Africa during the 1930s: Revisiting the charter of the SS Stuttgart”, Jewish Culture and History, Vol 11, Issue 1–2, p 124–38; Weyl, N (1970) Traitor’s end: The rise and fall of the communist movement in southern Africa,Arlington House, p 112.

17 Paton, A (1965) South African tragedy: The life and times of Jan Hofmeyr, Oxford University Press, p 194.

18 Bloomberg, C (1990) Christian nationalism and the rise of the Afrikaner Broederbond in South Africa, 1918–1948, Houndmills and London: MacMillan, p 149; O’Meara, D (1983) Volkskapitalisme: Class, capital and ideology in the development of Afrikaner nationalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p 105; Vatcher, WH (1965) White laager: The rise of Afrikaner nationalism, London: Pall Mall Press, p 61.

19 Hepple, A (1967) Verwoerd, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, p 46; Higginson, J (2014) Collective violence and the agrarian origins of South African apartheid, 1900–1948,Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p 325; Shimoni, G (2003) Community and conscience: The Jews in apartheid South Africa,The Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry Series, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, [for] Brandeis University Press: Cape Town: David Philip Publishers, p 14; Uys, S (Africa South), Jan–Mar 1959: 1, “Dr Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, prime minister of South Africa”.

20 Paton, A (1965) South African tragedy: The life and times of Jan Hofmeyr, Oxford University Press, p 201.

21 Treaster (The New York Times), 11 September 1983, “John Vorster, former South African prime minister, dies at 67”; Moodie, TD (1975) The rise of Afrikanerdom, Berkley: University of California Press, p 257.

22 TIME, 23 September 1966: 34–7, “South Africa: The security man”.

23 The New York Times, 25 July 1985: 22, “Many of South Africa’s leaders were pro-Nazi”; Bunting, B (1986) The rise of the South African Reich, London: International Defence and Aid Fund for South Africa, p 98; Okoth, A (2006) A history of Africa: African nationalism and the de-colonisation process,East African Educational Publishers,p 160.

24 TIME, 23 September 1966: 34–7, “South Africa: The security man”; Legum, C and Legum, M (1964b) South Africa: Crisis for the West,London and Dunmow: Pall Mall Press, p 28.

25 Moodie, TD (1975) The rise of Afrikanerdom, Berkley: University of California Press, p 230.

26 Furlong, PJ (1991) Between crown and swastika: The impact of the radical right on the Afrikaner nationalist movement in the fascist era, Hanover and London: Wesleyan University Press, p 80.

27 Furlong, PJ (2010) “The National Party of South Africa: A transnational perspective”, in M Durham and M Power (eds) (2010) New perspectives on the transnational right, Palgrave Macmillan, p 70.

28 Daniel, J and Vale, P (2009) “South Africa: Where were we looking in 1968?” in P Gassert and M Klimke (eds) (2009) 1968 – Memories and legacies of a global revolt, Washington, DC: German Historical Institute, p 140.

29 The Washington Post, 7 September 1966: 8, “Dr Verwoerd stabbed to death at his desk in Parliament”; Hughes, J (1961) The new face of Africa: South of the Sahara, Longmans, Green and Co, p 171; Leonard, R (1983) South Africa at war: White power and the crisis in southern Africa, Westport: Lawrence Hill and Company, p 164; Nixon, R (1994) Homelands, Harlem and Hollywood: South African culture and the world beyond, Routledge, p 43.

30 Vatcher, WH (1965) White laager: The rise of Afrikaner nationalism, London: Pall Mall Press, p 110.

31 Scholtz, JJJ (1974) Dr Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, Perskor-uitgewery, p 153.

32 Time, 16 September 1966, “South Africa: Death to the architect”.

33 Kenney, H (1980) Architect of apartheid: HF Verwoerd – An appraisal, Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers, p 186; Venter, JJ (1999) “HF Verwoerd: Foundational aspects of his thought”, Koers, 64 (4), 1999: 415–42.

34 Botha, J (1967) Verwoerd is dead, Cape Town: Books of Africa, p 63.

Lees ook:

Harris Dousemetzis se omstrede biografie oor Tsafendas: nóg ’n leser se indrukke

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  • Leopold Scholtz
    Leopold Scholtz

    Twee punte: (a) Douzemetzis maak 'n uiters arrogante indruk wat 'n sosialistiese paradigma as die enigste korrekte hanteer. Maar goed, dis seker sy reg. (b) Afgesien van die vraag of Tsafendas mal was of nie; hy bly 'n moordenaar. Ek vind dit interessant dat Douzemetsis hierdie moord, al is dit slegs by implikasie - soos die Duitsers dit stel - "verharmlost" (oftewel onskadelik voorstel). Ook dit is sy reg. Maar hy moenie maak asof hy en hy alleen die waarheid in pag het nie. Ek ken hom nie; ek ken wel vir Gustaf Pienaar. En daar is geen twyfel oor wie ek vertrou nie.

  • Avatar
    Marnus Coesee

    What a case of verbal diaree this piece is! The five "learned jurists" referred to, are all Marxists and old "struggle"- loyalists. Political Leftists, if you will. Why should we attach any value to the opinions of a bunch of Leftists and Marxists? Of course they will hail anything that points against the dreaded Apartheid system. And like Hillary Clinton said after the Benghazi fiasco, when she left four American patriots to be murdered by the Arabs: "What does it matter at this stage"? I have the same response to Harris Dousemetzis article and book: What does it matter at this point in time? So much time and effort wasted on irrelevant drivel.

  • What a comprehensive, and wholly convincing, response by the author. I was hoping someone would react to Gustaf Pienaar's strident review, because this is about how we should understand history. I would love to see Pienaar's explanations. Oh, and I'm blown away by the responses of Scholtz and Coesee above. Scholtz says the author is an arrogant socialist and he doesn't know him, so he'd rather believe Pienaar whom he does know - regardless of all the evidence in the Dousemetzis piece. And Scholtz is an historian? Coesee equally ignores all arguments and evidence, because some of the sources are communists and they always lie. Wow. This is LitNet, guys, not Die Son.

  • Avatar
    Spook Speurder

    Dear Mr. Dousemetzis, having quoted Professor John Dugard's statement, regarding your research, saying: "Political assassinations seldom achieve their goal, and this was no exception. But, at least, South African history should know the truth about Tsafendas.", what do you think he meant; not by the bit about goals but about SA history knowing the truth?

  • Avatar
    Harris Dousemetzis

    Dear Spook Speurder. Thank you very much for reading my article and for your message. Professor Dugard meant that history should be correctly recorded with regards to the assassination; thus, that Tsafendas was not insane and that the assassination was a political act. I should also add here that Professor Dugard does not condone the assassination and disagrees with it, but he believes that history should simply acknowledge that this was a political act, and not a mindless one.
    This is the rest of Professor Dugard's statement regarding the case:
    "Many South Africans suspected that there was a political cover-up in the Tsafendas case. The apartheid regime had two reasons for portraying Tsafendas to be insane. First, the regime wished to suggest that no-one in his right mind could kill such a wonderful leader as Hendrik Verwoerd. Secondly, there was the security aspect. The security apparatus, led by the Minister of Justice and Police, John Vorster, wished to avoid accountability for allowing a political revolutionary to be employed in a position close to the Prime Minister. So it was that the media and the legal proceedings were manipulated to present Tsafendas as a mentally deranged person dictated to by a tapeworm."
    I hope this answers your question, but do not hesitate to get back to me if you have any more questions.

  • Avatar
    Timothy Witherspoon

    The appalling thing about this book is not so much the sloppy mistakes that the author makes right and left; it is that he is apologizing for a cold-blooded murderer! As the Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" This applies not only to Tsafendas, but also to the author Dousemetzis. Presumably he thinks that it is appropriate to go around murdering people you don't agree with. One wonders whether it is even safe for him to be at large.
    And the real hero of the story is not Tsafendas, but Verwoerd's widow Betsie, who according to her grandson's book (Bloedbande) reacted to the news of his death with calm and solid Christian faith. She obviously agreed with the old German hymn "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan," which reads as follows in English translation:
    "Whate’er my God ordains is right:
    Here shall my stand be taken;
    Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
    Yet I am not forsaken.
    My Father’s care is round me there;
    He holds me that I shall not fall:
    And so to Him I leave it all."
    Even when faced with the vicious murder of her husband ("though death be mine"), she did not renounce her faith, but pointed out that God does not make any mistakes. Although his ways are past our understanding, she looked forward to that day when God will make everything right.
    And make no mistake about it. One day justice WILL be done: the Lord Jesus, who was also cruelly slain for his elect, will return "with clouds descending"! As the hymnwriter puts it:
    "Every eye shall now behold him
    Robed in dreadful majesty;
    Those who set at nought and sold him,
    Pierced and nailed him to the tree,
    Deeply wailing
    Deeply wailing
    Deeply wailing
    Shall the true Messiah see."
    There is grace and mercy at the foot of the cross!

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    Adriaan van Dis

    Hierdie man sê hy is nie Engels nie, hy is Grieks. Fair enough. Maar hy is darem arrogant. Dis ongelooflik arrogant om 'n boek in Engels te skryf as jy die taal nie goed kan skryf nie. En die bronne is in Afrikaans, maar hy kan geen woord Afrikaans. Hy was glo aan 'n universiteit in Engeland verbonde, maar nou kry ek hom nêrens op die Internet nie.

  • Avatar
    Timothy Witherspoon

    Two things: (1) The appalling thing about this book is that Dousemetzis believes that it is appropriate to murder people you disagree with. One wonders whether it is safe for him to be at large. (2) The true hero of the story is Verwoerd's widow, Betsie Verwoerd, who, according to her hard-hearted grandson's new book (Bloedbande), responded to her husband's death with calm Christian faith and a deep trust in God. Dousemetzis and Wilhelm Verwoerd would do well to learn from her.

  • Avatar
    Chris Erasmus

    Dr Dousemetzis, I bow to your superior knowledge. I also cordialy invite you to visit this country again and stay as long as possible. There are many books to write and even more people to interview regarding this countries historical battles and hardships. I still question your intentions on writing a book whereby you glorify a murderer whether he was sane or not. I interpret the book as if you justify a deed like murdering people if you do not agree with their objectives or opinions. It also raises the question, will you then justify farm murders in the country as the land was stolen, by popular opinion, from majority of the population. When can we expect a written gem from your pen regarding the murderers of Chris Hani. The two gentlemen who commited the crime did not like the idea or principles of communism.

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    Spook Speurder

    Thus Mr D starts your quote of what a sane Tsafendas told the two priests who visited him in prison.
    I put it to you that, under the circumstances, his words were those of a man who is seriously mixed up between the existence of God and himself, à la Lucifer, between God’s law and the law of the land, a man quite taken up into the spirit of propaganda and right on down into an alien and confusing world of cold logic and bad thinking, the excusing power behind many a bloody political act, of oppression, of revolution and even of a little ol’ necklace or two. Like people who believe they have identified evil then like the Boondock Saints pray to god or promise to love everybody while they blow some bad m/f-’s skull to smithereens; crucified shepherds of God’s flock the lot, out hunting wolves, but for profit.
    In light of the above contrasts it is not surprising that you should as author uphold Professor Dugard as a bastion for the truth, he who is quoted as thinking that South African history is not only a person but one at that who should know the truth, about as inversely surprising as it would be for the Professor to admit that O yes, of course spirits are more real than us!
    Another person quoted above, an emeritus no less, equally dregs up the question of truth. This one is clear on the fact that the lies of a racist regime cannot be justified whereat you are left with the question of whether ‘tis not their truths rather that you would not see justified.
    As creative spirits human beings have access to the truth, but it seems we couldn’t care less about it. The media, as did printing, makes the world into a village where we recognise each other. It widens our field of observation and shows up our blinkers but by our carelessness its form is primarily that of a biased and well-armed gossip, with fingers active in many pies and with knives in all over the place. When do reporters get personally involved with their subjects and to what extent? It depends on whether they care or think they care.
    As for TV, from popular culture we have Green Day who agree with Verwoerd’s take on tv. Take a listen to their American Idiot song.

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