The President’s Patient
On the afternoon of 6 September 1966, Demetrios Tsafendas, a Parliamentary messenger of Greek-Mocambican origin, assassinated then Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd in the House of Assembly in Cape Town, approaching and stabbing him in front of all the Members in the House, as well as a packed public gallery. In doing so, he had evaded General Hendrik Van der Bergh’s security apparatus, one of the most efficient and deadly in the world.
Tsafendas, a long-time political activist and anarchist, after months of torture and interrogation, was to be found not guilty by reason on insanity at his trial, and committed to an asylum, where he died in 1999. This narrative suited the Apartheid establishment, as it portrayed him a loner and demented, and not a committed revolutionary who had been nurtured in resistance politics by his revolutionary forebears.
In this dramatic fictionalised story, author and Ambassador Mzuvukile Maqetuka challenges that narrative and presents a whole new viewpoint on the enigma that was Tsafendas (or Fernandez Alexepoulos, as he is known in the book).
A must read for all students of South African history!!