Bomb warning ignored

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Jonty Driver at a book signing in the Rye Bookshop

Jonty Driver signed copies of his latest book, The Man with the Suitcase, in Rye Bookshop last weekend. The book is a biography of “liberal terrorist” John Harris.

In July 1964, Harris planted a time bomb at Johannesburg main railway station. He rang the railway police and two newspapers to warn them to clear the concourse. However no action was taken.

The bomb exploded killing one woman and injuring 23 others. Harris was hanged at the age of 27, the only white person executed for anti-apartheid crimes and was later honoured by South African president Jacob Zuma in 2011.

Jonty, now based in Northiam, was born and brought up in South Africa. He was president of the anti-apartheid National Union of South African Students in 1963-4, which ended in his being detained in solitary confinement.

He then moved to England to undertake postgraduate work at Oxford University. While he was there, his passport expired and the South African authorities refused to renew it, leaving him stateless for two years before Britain granted him citizenship.

After many years of being denied access to South Africa, Jonty can now return freely to the country of his birth. He has recently returned from Cape Town, where The Man with the Suitcase was officially launched.

 

Photo: Seana Lanigan