The Man with the Suitcase by CJ “Jonty” Driver
27 Aug 2015
At tea-time on the afternoon of Friday 24 July 1964 a young white South African, John Harris, put down in the main concourse of Johannesburg station…a large brown suitcase containing eight sticks of dynamite, a quantity of Cordtex, a two-gallon plastic container of petrol, a timing device adapted from a pocket-watch, an electric battery and two detonators. On the suitcase was a handwritten note saying, “Terug binne 10 minute” (back in ten minutes). At about quarter past four he telephoned the Railway Police and two newspapers. He spoke in English to the Rand Daily Mail—the reporter who took the message thought it was the voice of a black South African—and in fluent Afrikaans to Die Transvaler. He said he was speaking on behalf of the African Resistance Movement, that there was a bomb in the station, and that the station should be cleared at once. Although the newspapers passed their information to the police, in the time that elapsed apparently no action was taken.
– from The Man with the Suitcase
About the author
CJ (“Jonty”) Driver was born and educated in South Africa. He was President of the anti-apartheid National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) in 1963-4, his term ending when he was detained for a period by the security police in solitary confinement, after which he moved to England. While he was a postgraduate student at Trinity College,
Oxford, his passport expired and the South African authorities at the time declined to renew it. He was stateless for five years before being granted British citizenship. All of his applications to visit South Africa were refused until 1992, when he began returning regularly. He retired as Master of Wellington College in 2000 and devoted himself to writing. He has published five novels, six books of poetry, a biography and two short memoirs, and has been honorary senior lecturer in the School of Literature and Creative Writing of the University of East Anglia since 2007. He was a judge for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2007 and 2008. He has held fellowships at Bogliasco (Italy), the McDowell Colony (USA) and in the Hawthornden Castle Writers Retreat (Scotland).
Date of Publication: September 2015
Publisher: Crane River