Coloured ANC leader wants to honour assassin Tsafendas

Christian Martins, MPL for the Eastern Cape
Christian Martins, MPL for the Eastern Cape

A request has been made to declare the graves of Hendrik Verwoerd and his assassin Dimitri Tsafendas national heritage sites.

The request came from ANC Eastern Cape MPL Christian Martins in a letter to the National Heritage Council of SA, released to the media on Monday.

Martins argues in the letter that South Africa’s history would be incomplete without Verwoerd, referred to as the “architect of apartheid”.

Verwoerd served as South Africa’s prime minister from September 2, 1958 to September 6, 1966, when he was stabbed by Tsafendas in the then House of Assembly in Parliament.

“Dimitri Tsafendas and Hendrik Verwoerd arguably changed the course of post-war South African history more than any other, when Tsafendas stabbed to death the ‘architect of apartheid’,” said Martins.

Martins said that while Tsafendas was declared unfit to stand trial due to insanity, research showed Tsafendas knew what he was doing and planned the assassination well in advance.

“And further research clearly shows that this act of Tsafendas was politically motivated, aggravated by the heinous racial prejudices that Verwoerd exploited to try to entrench white rule on the subcontinent.”

It was Martin’s opinion that rather than forgetting these important role-players in the country’s history, homage should be bestowed upon Tsafendas, a hero and martyr for the cause of the South African people.

“The assassination of Verwoerd was our exodus from the policies, laws and by-laws articulated and crafted by Verwoerd,” he said.

“Verwoerd inculcated in South Africans a belief that those who opposed apartheid or criticised it either misunderstood the policy or were dangerous communists.”

This led to violence which drove black leaders into exile and quenched internal opposition, giving birth to a form of leadership within many mass movements that saw South Africa transformed to democracy.

“Shared opposition and shared passion for apartheid shaped South Africa and for that we have to honour and remember the oppressed and the oppressor, the villain and the hero,” said Martins.

Martins was punished by the Eastern Cape legislature’s ethics committee in September for referring to the Democratic Alliance as peacocks in October last year.

He was penalised one months salary and suspended from participating in the activities of the legislature for 30 days from October 1. – Sapa