The World Federation of Trade Unions is honoring the memory of every militant in every corner of the world. Today, we honor the memory of Dimitri Tsafendas who died in the South African prison on October 7th 1999.
Dimitri Tsafendas (14 January 1918 – 7 October 1999) was born in Mozambique and lived in South Africa. He became a seaman in the US merchant marine in 1941 and served aboard American ships during the Second World War. In all his life he lived with revolutionary and anti-apartheid ideas. After his deportation to Greece by the US government, he joined the Democratic Army, Tsafendas fought with them against the royalists during the Greek Civil War.
Shortly before the civil war ended , Tsafendas made his way to Portugal. Upon his arrival to the country, he was arrested and interrogated by the police about his political activities in Mozambique in 1938. He was imprisoned for nine months in the two most notorious Portuguese prisons for political offenders, the Barca d’Alva and the Aljuba Prison but was refused entry because of his past political activities and was deported back to Portugal. Banned from entering South Africa, where his family had gone to live in the late 1930s, and Mozambique, Tsafendas was forced to spend the next 12 years of his life on exile. Over these years he would apply at least once a year for permission to enter Mozambique or South Africa, but all his applications were refused because of his political activities in Mozambique in the 1930s.
On September 6th, 1966 he killed with four stabs Hendrik Verwoerd, prime minister of South Africa and architect of Apartheid in the House of Assembly where he was working as a parliamentary messenger. He was arrested and stayed imprisoned until his death.
The apartheid regime tried with many ways to present him as insane, as an instrument of secret services etc.
Dimitri Tsafentas as a mixed-race himself, was tortured by the racist regime but stayed upstanding until his death.
He was a proletarian who didn’t tolerate social injustice and slavery. The WFTU will institute a prize in his memory.