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Murder of Jeremy Gordin ‘has robbed South African journalism of one of its best’

Murder of Jeremy Gordin ‘has robbed South African journalism of one of its best’
Journalist Jeremy Gordin was found dead in his home in Parktown, Johannesburg on 31 March. (Photo: Twitter)

A manhunt is under way following the murder of journalist and author Jeremy Gordin whose body was found in his Johannesburg home. 

Journalist Jeremy Gordin was found dead in his home in Parkview, Johannesburg, police have confirmed. He was found on Friday, 31 March after his family unsuccessfully tried to contact him. 

In a statement issued on Saturday, Gauteng police confirmed they were investigating a case of house robbery and murder. 

Gordin was a former associate editor of the Sunday Independent as well as a former editor of the Daily Sun. He was an author who co-authored two investigative journalism books, The Infernal Tower and A Long Night’s Damage. He also published a biography of former president Jacob Zuma, Zuma: A Biography in 2010, and three volumes of poetry.

In later years, he ran the Justice Project at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Journalism. Recently, he was a regular columnist for Politicsweb.  

“It is reported that the family of the deceased was in Cape Town when they tried to contact him but he could not be reached,” said a statement issued in the name of Lieutenant-Colonel Mavela Masondo, a police spokesperson.  

A family friend went to check up on Gordin. “Upon arrival, she found the back door of the main house locked and the key of the door was in the lock on the outside… she entered the house and discovered that it was ransacked,” added Masondo. 

Gordin was already dead with multiple injuries. A television and Gordin’s car were stolen. 

“No arrests have been made and a manhunt for the suspect(s) is under way,” said Masondo.

According to News24, Gordin’s wife was making her way from Cape Town to Johannesburg. 

“He was a big character, passionate about writing, literature and life, with a prodigious appetite for it all,” said Anton Harber, the executive director of the Campaign for Free Expression and Caxton professor of journalism at Wits University. 

In August 2009, Gordin joined the Wits Justice Project where he investigated cases of wrongful conviction. Harber told Daily Maverick on Sunday: “Most notable was his role in tackling the case of two innocent ANC men, Fusi Mofokeng and Tshokolo Mofokeng, who were jailed for many years and neglected by the organisation… Jeremy was central to the team that investigated and campaigned for their release.

Fusi Mofokeng (L) and Tshokolo Mokoena (R) are released from prison on April 2, 2011 in Kroonstad, South Africa. The two men were convicted in 1993 for crimes, on the basis of the doctrine of common purpose, and served nineteen years of their life sentences, despite maintaining their innocence throughout. With them is Jeremy Gordin who played a key role in their release. (Photo: Wits Justice Project)

Harber further added: “It is shocking that he should die in this way, he leaves a big gap in our lives.” 

“Jeremy Gordin was a classic journalist, irreverent and fearless. He wrote what he thought and felt, regardless of who he offended — that sometimes got him into trouble,” said specialist foreign affairs writer Peter Fabricius. Fabricius worked with Gordin in previous years. Fabricius writes for Daily Maverick

“His journalism was also underpinned by deep knowledge as he was, in his spare time, a classical scholar,” Fabricius said. “His cruel murder has robbed South African journalism of one of its best.”  

Anne Taylor, a subeditor at Daily Maverick, remembers Gordin giving her her first job at Business Report. “I worked with him again at The Sunday Independent. He called me “phlegmatic” – and I was so green I didn’t realise it was a compliment.
“I remember him as funny, warm, intellectual, grumpy, complicated – and someone who was never afraid to call bullshit. And, really, we came up against a lot of bullshit at the time. He gave me two books at different times: a darling collection of his own poems, and a Philip Roth. And that about covers it. I’m so terribly sad to hear about your death, Jeremy Gordin. You were a mensch to work for and with,” said Taylor.

Police have appealed to anyone who might have information that can assist in the investigation to call the nearest police station or the Crime Stop line on  08600 10111. Information can also be given anonymously via the MySAPS App that can be downloaded from any smartphone. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    A great loss indeed. His column in Politicsweb was a weekly highlight. Loved his understated satiric style, the footnotes in particular. His last piece was typically soaked in self-deprecating humour and forthrigh as usual. Any Jew dissing Israel & Bibi has to be able handle the flack of the ‘aunties’ and of course Mr Gordin did so with his playful cutting banter. Aaah, I’m going to miss this man…

    • James Hamill says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Loved the style, the wit, and the footnotes and the obligatory reference to ‘my gorgeous wife’. A unique style.

  • Hulme Scholes says:

    He was murdered in Parkview, not Parktown as per the article.
    I terrible tragedy and a great loss for our community.

  • Paul Botha says:

    So sad that life is so cheap here in SA. We have lost a real pillar of commentary. RIP.

  • David Forbes says:

    Please fix the story: it’s not Parktown, it’s Parkview. Lurgan Road to be exact. If DM sub/editors kept up with the news, they would know that. Also, the story from News24 said the kitchen door was unlocked, whereas the DM story says it was locked. No-one checked this fact with the cops? Eish!

  • Ian McGill says:

    Why does a routine burglary turn into a “Gordin was already dead with multiple injuries.” ? useless police!

  • Barry Taylor says:

    I will miss his articles in Politics and I have sympathy for the family
    My comments are in politics today and all I would like to add is that I have seen it more and more sa is a totally lawless state like the rest of africa
    It does not have to sink down to africa standards it is already there
    Please all who can leave the country
    Realist Thailand

  • James Hamill says:

    That is the most depressing and sad news imaginable. I loved reading his work. Very upsetting

  • Neil Parker says:

    When murder becomes routine (as is more and more the case in SA), we are heading towards the mire where we can no longer distinguish between “criminal” murder and assassination. Equally we cannot rule out the latter in the case of a journalist whose work for justice/accountability could earn him enemies in high places – the same as Babita and Andre. The NPA needs to start doing it’s job properly and see to it that all these cases are thoroughly investigated so as to either confirm or end any such speculation.

  • Gavin Brown says:

    No spot of light at the end of the tunnel we are in !?!

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