Brian Percy Bunting

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Biographical information

Brian Percy Bunting


Journalist, Natives Representative in the House of Assembly,Western Cape, chief editor of the Guardian, editor of the African Communist and Central Committee member of the SACP.

First name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
Location of birth: 
Johannesburg, South Africa
Date of death: 
18 June 2008

Brian Bunting son of Sidney and Rebecca Bunting was born in 1920, in  the buntings Regent St home in Johannesburg. He matriculated at age 15 and attended Wits University where he ran a campus newspaper, Wu’s views, and literary magazine, Umpa. He was elected president of Wits SRC.

After graduating he worked as nightshift sub-editor on the Rand Daily Mail and the Sunday Times – while completing his honours thesis. In 1942 he joined the army and served in North Africa and Italy as an air mechanic and information officer.

After his return he served as assistant national secretary to the Springbok Legion and he edited the Springbok legion’s monthly newspaper called Fighting Talk.

Bunting joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1940 at age 20.  In 1946 he was elected to the Johannesburg district committee of the Communist Party, and later served on the party's central committee. He was arrested following the 1946 African mine workers strike, but the charges against him were dropped.

In June 1946 the Communist Party asked Bunting to go to Cape Town to assist Radfort, the editor of the Guardian Newspaper. He left for Cape Town on the day he married Sonia Isaacman. He became the assistant editor of the Gaurdian.

From November 1952 to October 1953 he was a Natives' Representative in the house of Assembly for the Western Cape district. He succeeded Sam Kahn and like Kahn, he was expelled from the Parliament because of his SACP membership. He was one of the small group of party members who, in 1953, reconstituted the party underground. He served on the central committee of the SACP for more than 50 years.

Later Bunting succeeded Radfort to become the chief editor of the Guardian and was involved in editing the following publications; Advance, Clarion, Peoples' World, and New Age, (all published in Cape Town - except during the 1960 State of Emergency).  

Bunting faced banning orders from 1952, he was detained in 1960 and placed under house arrest in 1962. But it was in 1963 that he was prohibited from publishing, at the time he was a writer for the newspaper The Spark

In July 1963 Brian and his family left for London and he served in the SACP which was headed by Dr. Yusuf Dadoo in London. In the 1980’s edited the African communist they returned in 1991 and in 1994 he was elected to parliament.

He was received an award from the International Organisation ofJournalist in 1960 and the Lenin Centenary medal in 1970. In 2003 he received an award from the newspaper Satyagraha for his contribution to liberation struggle. At the 10th congress of the SACP held in 1998, he and Billy Nair were the first recipients of the Moses Kotane award.

Bunting passed away in Cape Town on 18 June 2008. His wife Sonia died in 2001. They are survived by three children Stephen, Peter and Margie.

Last updated : 24-Oct-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011