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The Good Terrorist


During the Apartheid era, the South African State hanged almost four thousand prisoners. Of all of those executed for political offences, one was white.

He was just 27 years old, and left a young wife and a 9 month old baby boy.

A few years earlier John Harris had been living in Oxford with Ann, his English wife, pursuing post-graduate study at the University, content with the quiet, academic life. Yet he was soon to become the most despised white person in South Africa.

He was sentenced to death from the same dock that Mandela stood in to receive his life term a year earlier. The Robben Island prisoners, led by Mandela, marked his hanging with a silent vigil. Yet today his name is barely known; his story has never really been told.

Drawing on extensive unpublished material, including a moving cache of over a hundred letters John and Anne exchanged whilst he was on death row, The Good Terrorist is a moral meditation on the way Apartheid forced its subjects to compartmentalize their lives. It explores for the first time the full story behind the fateful decision that John Harris took one July evening, as he entered Park Station in Johannesburg.

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