Frederick John Harris

Names: Harris, Frederick John

Born: 1937

Died: 1 April 1965

In summary: Teacher, a member of the executive committee of the Liberal Party in the Transvaal, as well as a chairman of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee. 

Frederick John Harris was born in 1937. He was a teacher, a member of the executive committee of the Liberal Party in the Transvaal, as well as a chairman of the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee. He was also one of the members of the nearly all-white African Resistance Movement (ARM) and the first and only white man to be hanged for a politically inspired offence in the years after the 1960 Sharpeville emergency.

He was banned in February 1964, a few months before police moved to smash the underground ARM. While maintaining his Liberal Party connection, he had joined ARM, but he was not arrested in the police swoops.

On July 24, 1964, he planted a bomb in the Johannesburg railway station in the hope this demonstration of defiance might spark opposition to the government. A telephone warning was too late to prevent the explosion, which killed one old woman and injured a dozen others, and produced a horrified reaction amongst the white population.

Harris was caught and on April 1, 1965 went to the gallows, reportedly singing.

References

  • Lewin, H. (1974) Bandiet: Seven Years in a South African Prison, p.37
  • Karis, T.G. & Gerhart, G.M. (1997).