The Man Who Killed Apartheid: The Life of Dimitri Tsafendas by Harris Dousemetzis – a complete about turn on one of the apartheid government’s greatest cover-ups
The Man Who Killed Apartheid: The Life of Dimitri Tsafendas by Harris Dousemetzis is out now from Jacana Media.
In the South African House of Assembly, on 6 September 1966, Dimitri Tsafendas stabbed to death Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd.
Afterwards, Tsafendas was declared to be a schizophrenic who believed a tapeworm lived inside him which controlled his actions, and that he had no political motive for assassinating Verwoerd. Pronounced unfit to stand trial, Tsafendas went down in history as a deranged parliamentary messenger. For 50 years, this story prevailed.
However, this book now reveals the truth about Tsafendas; that he was deeply political from an early age. He was arrested numerous times, starting in Mozambique, the country of his birth. In Portugal, the security police opened a file on him in 1938, when he was aged only 20. After the assassination, Tsafendas volunteered a series of incontestable political reasons for killing Verwoerd, but these, along with details of his political past, were never allowed to see the light of day.
This book reveals the extent of the cover-up by South Africa’s authorities and the desperate lengths they went to conceal the existence of Tsafendas’s opposition to apartheid.
The book exposes one of the great lies in South African history, that Verwoerd was murdered by a mad man. It also offers for the first time a complete biography of this extraordinary man.
Advocate George Bizos characterised Dousemetzis’s work on Tsafendas and Verwoerd’s assassination as ‘monumental’ and of being ‘of major historical importance for South Africa and as to our understanding of Verwoerd’s assassination’.
Professor John Dugard said: ‘South African history should know the truth about Tsafendas. Dousemetzis has done South Africa a service by correcting the historical record.’
About the author
Harris Dousemetzis lives in the United Kingdom where he is working towards a PhD at the University of Durham. He has been researching the life of Dimitri Tsafendas for ten years. His report into the assassination has been handed over to Justice Minister Masutha.