Dimitris Tsafentas – The man who killed Apartheid

Like today, January 14, 1919, Dimitris Tsafentas was born, who went down in history for assassinating the Prime Minister of South Africa, Hendrik Fairbourd, the so-called “architect of Apartheid”.

Dimitri Tsafendas was born in Lorenzo Marquez (modern-day Maputo) in Mozambique, then a Portuguese colony. It was the fruit of a chance meeting of the Hanioti sailor Michalis Tsafentas or Tsafentakis and the Mozambican complex Amelia Williams. He grew up with his grandmother and then with his adoptive parents. He attended a Catholic school, where he was confronted with the racist comments of his classmates because of the dark color of his skin.

He was treated the same way in South Africa, although the authorities classified him as a white person, based on the racial discrimination that was then in force in the country. In the mid-1930s he was an active member of the Communist Party of South Africa. At the same time he boarded the ships and went around the world. In fact, during the two years 1947-1949 he lived in Greece. He was very smart and managed to learn eight languages. He was then diagnosed with the first symptoms of schizophrenia and had to be admitted to various psychiatric clinics for treatment.

In 1966 he returned to South Africa and after doing various occasional jobs, on August 1 he was hired as a messenger to the country’s parliament, based in Cape Town. A month later he made headlines around the world when he assassinated the South African prime minister in parliament. At noon on September 6, 65-year-old Hendrik Fairbour entered the parliament’s session hall and headed to the prime minister’s office. Tsafentas then rushed at him and stabbed him four times in the chest, leaving him breathless.

He was immediately arrested by rushing deputies and handed over to the police. He told police that he had killed Fairbourd because he was “disgusted with his racist policies”. As it was later revealed, Tsafentas was outraged by the authorities, because a few days before the murder, they had rejected his request to be transferred to the “colored” category, in order to talk to his girlfriend, who belonged to the same racial category. In the trial that followed, his act was judged by the court not guilty because of the schizophrenia from which he suffered, and he was sentenced to indefinite detention in a psychiatric hospital.

The authorities, taking advantage of a “window” of the law, succeeded in imprisoning him for death, so for the following years he was daily with the Damocles sword of execution. After the collapse of the racial discrimination regime in 1994, Chafentas was admitted to a psychiatric clinic in Johannesburg, where he died on October 7, 1999, at the age of 81. He was buried according to the standard of the Orthodox Church and was buried in an unknown location.


Two plays are inspired by the personality and life of Dimitris Tsafentas:

“Tsafendas” by South African Anton Krieger (2002)

“ID” by Englishman Anthony Sir (2003)

Source: sansimera.gr

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