(source: the guardian)

One of the most shocking stories of the anti-apartheid era may have been uncovered by a British correspondent. It is the disclosure that former prime ministers, Hendrik Verwoed and John Vorster, and the former head of the security police, General Hendrik van den Berg, were co-conspirators in a crime which led to another man being sent to the gallows.

The man who was hanged was John Harris, the so-called “mad bomber” executed for bombing Johannesburg’s Park station in 1964. Harris was the only white man hanged for a political offence during National Party rule.

It now appears that the three most powerful political figures in South Africa at the time – Verwoerd, Vorster and Van den Bergh – knew that the bomb had been planted and had plenty of time to stop it, but chose not do so. The reason was that they anticipated – and were proven right – that the bomb would deliver a hammer blow to the anti-apartheid movement. Harris was the chairman of Sanroc (the South African Non-racial Olympic Committee) which was leading the campaign against apartheid through sports boycotts. The bomb, which went off at 4.33 pm on Friday 24, 1964, also destroyed the Liberal Party.

The allegations about Harris, Verwoerd, Vorster and Van den Bergh are made by a British foreign correspondent in South Africa, David Beresford. He has been a correspondent in Johannesburg of the London newspaper, The Guardian, for 26 years.

Beresford has spent more than 10 years on the book, while at the same time battling Parkinson’s disease which he contracted while covering the first Gulf War.

Truth is a Strange Fruit makes extraordinary disclosures about the involvement of a Zionist terrorist organisation in the Park Street bombing. This points to the possibility that the 1964 bomb involved Israeli intelligence.

Beresford also investigates the activities of the ANC in exile, focusing on the activities of a security organisation, “the stone that crushes” within the movement and the role in it of the present South African head of state, President Jacob Zuma. The allegations of Zuma’s involvement in at least three key murders were made by Beresford in an article published by the Johannesburg Sunday Times last year.His account has not been challenged by the president.

The widow of John Harris, Ann Wolfe, and their son, David, who was a small baby when his father was executed, will be coming out to South Africa from England for the launch of the book. David Wolfe is now a high-powered lawyer in London. Extracts of love-letters written from death row by John Harris to Ann form part of Truth is a Strange Fruit.

About the Author:

David Beresford was born in South Africa and moved to the UK in 1974. Joining The Guardian newspaper, he covered the conflicts in Ireland, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the first Gulf War. In 1984, with the outbreak of South Africa’s township rebellions, The Guardian posted him to South Africa. In 1986, his book on the Irish hunger strike, 10 Men Dead, was published. The Observer newspaper described it as ‘probably the best book to come out of the Irish troubles in 20 years’.

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