The Man who Killed Apartheid: The Life of Dimitri Tsafendas

New Updated Edition

by Harris Dousemetzis (University of Durham), Gerry Loughran

Purchase this book

$ 73
Availability: In stock
currency displayed based on your location
(click here to change currency)

'The Man Who Killed Apartheid: The Life of Dimitri Tsafendas' is a tour de force of investigative, analytical rigour, in righting one of the injustices perpetuated by 'apartheid'. Harris Dousemetzis has written an accessible biography of Tsafendas that transcends the academic monograph. He highlights the life and times of 'apartheid', employs transnational historical evidence and in so doing indicates the book’s contemporary relevance and significant contribution to African Studies. This is a captivating and hypnotising book, a fabulously worthy winner of the 2020 Fage and Oliver ASAUK book prize.

African Studies Association UK

One of the most important books that have ever been written about apartheid. Not only does it reveal the truth about Tsafendas by exposing apartheid’s lies, but it also gives a detailed and accurate description of what apartheid was and how its security forces operated.

Advocate George Bizos SC

South African history should know the truth about Tsafendas. Dousemetzis has done South Africa a service by correcting the historical record.

Prof. John Dugard
Judge ad hoc on the International Court of Justice and member of the United Nations International Law Commission

A good story, if nothing else, has been completely overturned by Harris Dousemetzis in his book, The Man Who Killed Apartheid: The Life of Dimitri Tsafendas. Everything in the official and widely believed version was wrong and deliberately so ... Dousemetzis has done a phenomenal task of researching his subject ... What he produced is the meticulous biography of a man robbed by history of his identity ... What Harris Dousemetzis has produced is nothing less than a classic example of the genre and one, more than most, that has changed the historiography of this significant event ... Harris Dousemetzis is to be congratulated on a fine work that will inspire other workers in the biographic field.

Dr. Robert M. Kaplan
South African Historical Journal

This book is about a search for the truth.

Jody Kollapen
Judge in the High Court of South Africa

Harris Dousemetzis has placed the killing in its correct historical perspective.

Nikos Konstandaras
The Nation

I bought it and started reading it and was soon filled with wonder and admiration. What an extraordinary achievement. What a unique, precious book. It is evidence, if any is needed, that the best work comes from passion to the point of obsession, and from mountains of labour.

Prof. Jonny Steinberg
African Studies Centre, Oxford University

Dousemetzis and Loughran, in this meticulous - and perhaps at times a tad over-researched biography of Dimitri Tsafendas, have corrected the lie that he was a simple-minded man who was driven to kill Verwoerd because a tapeworm told him to do so. A gripping read that restores Tsafendas to his rightful place in history.

Marianne Thamm
Associate Editor at Daily Maverick

On 6 September 1966, inside the House of Assembly in Cape Town, Dimitri Tsafendas fatally stabbed Hendrik Verwoerd, South Africa’s Prime Minister and so-called “architect of apartheid.” Tsafendas was immediately arrested, and before the authorities had even questioned him, they declared him a madman without any political motive for the killing. In the Cape Supreme Court, Tsafendas was found unfit to stand trial on the grounds that he suffered from schizophrenia and that he had no political motive for killing Verwoerd. Tsafendas spent the next 28 years in prison, making him the longest-serving prisoner in South African history. For most of his incarceration, he was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment by the prison authorities. This new updated edition contains all the developments regarding the Tsafendas case after the publication of the book's first edition.

Chapter 1 The Deed
Chapter 2 After the Deed
Chapter 3 The Son of an Anarchist
Chapter 4 Tsafendas and Verwoerd in South Africa
Chapter 5 Enter the Tapeworm
Chapter 6 Redemption
Chapter 7 Exiled
Chapter 8 Teacher of English and Bomb-maker
Chapter 9 Back to Africa
Chapter 10 Parliamentary Messenger
Chapter 11 The Outbreak of Torture
Chapter 12 A Verdict is Arranged
Chapter 13 A State-President’s Patient
Chapter 14 Justifying the Deed
Chapter 15 An Unmarked Grave
About the Authors

From 2009 to 2018, Harris Dousemetzis extensively researched the assassination of Verwoerd and the life of Tsafendas. For this research, he travelled to South Africa, Mozambique, Greece, France, and Turkey, and interviewed about 150 people who either knew Tsafendas or Verwoerd or were involved in the case of the assassination. He discovered about 12,000 pages of documents on the case, most of them previously unpublished, in archival collections in South Africa, Portugal and the UK. Dousemetzis collaborated with prominent South African jurists, psychiatrists and psychologists, and concluded his research by writing the 'Report to the Minister of Justice in the Matter of Dr. Verwoerd’s Assassination'. The report conclusively proved that Tsafendas had assassinated Verwoerd for political reasons and that the apartheid authorities had orchestrated a massive operation to declare him insane and apolitical.

'The Man Who Killed Apartheid', based on Dousemetzis’s groundbreaking research, chronicles in detail Tsafendas’s life and conclusively demonstrates that he was a perfectly sane and deeply political person with a long history of political activism. At the same time, the book exposes the lie at the heart of apartheid’s posture on the assassination of Hendrik Verwoerd and provides a rare picture of how the racist regime operated and what it was like to live and die under apartheid.

Dimitri Tsafendas, Hendrik Verwoerd, Apartheid, African history, South African history, History of Race, Colonialism, Political assassinations, Civil rights

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

The Man who Killed Apartheid: The Life of Dimitri Tsafendas

Book Subtitle

New Updated Edition





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


18 Color

Publication date

October 2023