Stanley Uys’s funeral

The funeral of Stanley Uys on 25th January at the St Marylebone Crematorium, East Finchley in London, was a very moving occasion. Stan was among the greatest South African political journalists. His death brought together fellow journalists and authors, including Neil Behrmann (Wall Street Journal and Johannesburg Star), Denis Herbstein (Guardian) and John Battersby (Sunday Independent).

Sir Sidney Kentridge – among South Africa’s most eminent lawyers – gave a moving speech. He described how Stan would use a code-name for his ‘deep-throat’ inside the National Party when he discussed the stories he was breaking with his editor on the Sunday Times, Joel Mervis – knowing that the phone-lines from Cape Town to Johannesburg would be bugged. The name Stan used was ‘Verwoerd’ – which must have caused the listening security police no-end of a headache!

New Age and Fighting Talk

But the funeral also provided a new suggestion – that Stan wrote for two publications controlled by the South African Communist Party. These were Fighting Talk, the journal of the Springbok Legion and New Age (a publication that appeared under several names, Guardian and Spark).

The claim that Stan wrote for these two publications was made by Paul Joseph, who also attended the funeral. Joseph was a member of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress and the South Africa Communist Party. He also worked closely with Ruth First, who was on the editorial boards of both publications, and editor of New Age. As Joseph told Padraig O’Malley in 2002, Ruth was a close friend of Stan’s.

“She turned out to be a very talented and very courageous journalist and she often told me that a lot of her experience she gave credit to Henry Khumalo who was one of the Drum correspondents. Drum magazine. There are two ways of spelling it, you can spell it with an X or a K, Khumalo. So she also learnt from various foreign correspondents some of the tricks of the trade and she often told me these things and it shows the value of being in touch with people and a lot of the journalists were very sympathetic, especially the foreign correspondents. Then she got to know some of the SA journalists very well. One of her great friends was Stanley Uys and they got on exceptionally well and she got to know a lot from Stanley about the shenanigans going on in the political area of the NP. He was writing for the Daily Mail at the time. He was an astute political correspondent. I think at the same time he was also a correspondent for The Times of India, I think his stuff appeared in different parts of the world.”

Paul Joseph’s claim

I can confirm that Stan was, indeed, close to Ruth First.He told me so himself. But Joseph goes further, saying that Stan wrote for both New Age and Fighting Talk under the nom-de-plume of ‘Piet Meyer.’  I have looked through Fighting Talk, including the index prepared by the African Studies Program of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I cannot I find anything by ‘Piet Meyer’. I have not been able to access New Age.

I am not suggesting that Joseph is attempting to mislead or dissemble, but these events did take place a long time ago. It is possible that Joseph is mixing up Stan’s writing for the radical Cape Town journal, Africa South – something that Denis Herbstein referred to in his obituary.

So far there is no proof of the claim, which Joseph made in a written statement he brought to the funeral. I am reproducing it below. I attempted to contact Paul Joseph about this issue, but he is currently in South Africa. Perhaps he will clarify this question on his return.

Martin

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