South African Film Festival

True Patriot + Q&A

Expired May 30, 2024 1:30 PM
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Between 1961 and 1989, in Apartheid South Africa,132 political prisoners were executed by hanging at Pretoria Central Gallows.

Many were young – Solomon Mahlangu – executed in 1979, was 22 years old when hanged.

All save one were black.

John Harris – [no relation to the Producer / Director of this documentary] - hanged at age 27, was the only white person to be executed for fighting apartheid.

A member of the clandestine "all white" African ResistanceMovement [ARM], John Harris was left the “last man standing” after a nation-wide crack-down by Apartheid security police on the 4th July 1964 saw all members of ARM either detained or fleeing the country.

Married to Ann - with a son only six weeks old, in a final desperate statement against Apartheid, on 24th July 1964 John Harris placed a bomb on a “Whites only” platform at the Johannesburg Station.

To avoid casualties, Harris telephoned an urgent warning to two major newspaper offices and the Railway Police instructing them to immediately clear the concourse of all commuters.

In spite of Harris’ warnings the authorities did nothing to clear the station and the explosion left twenty-three injured and one dead.

On 1st April 1965, at 5.30am, John Harris – aged 27 – softly singing “We shall Overcome”, was executed by hanging in Pretoria.

On death row he had one final request: that “one day in a new and free South Africa, on his tombstone should be written: ‘John Harris – True Patriot’.

“True Patriot” – an intimate docu / drama feature - tells the remarkable & little-known story of the life & times of John Harris & those closest to him.

This is their story.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    82 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    South Africa
  • Rating
  • Genre
    Social Justice / Political History
  • Content Warning
  • Director
    Kevin Harris
  • Screenwriter
    Kevin Harris
  • Producer
    Kevin Harris
  • Cast
    Vanessa Cooke, Gabi Harris, James Whyle
  • Cinematographer
    Kevin Harris
  • Editor
    Thabiso Motlhakoana
  • Sound Design
    Mike Berridge