There was something of a shock in store this weekend when it was reported that Cyril Ramaphosa’s security detail ramped up their investigations into alleged assassination plots against the serving president. A serious breach of safety within SANDF had prompted the alert, but sadly, this sort of thing comes with the territory.
Ramaphosa presides over a deeply divided party. His enemies may not just be political opponents and outsiders, but rather a different ANC faction. Authorities have remained tight-lipped about what was actually detailed in these plans, but they were spooked when a fake soldier managed to gain access to the Inauguration Ceremony in May.
Being a targeted man is nothing new in the life of a South African president, though. As we’ve learned from our last four leaders, you’re never really too safe when occupying the iron throne…
Assassination attempts against South African presidents
Msholozi is the only one of our recent presidents who spilt the beans on his own alleged assassination attempt. He’s repeatedly claimed that he was poisoned shortly after Mzansi joined Brics, citing his stance on “radical economic transformation” as the reason he was targeted. His ex-wife Nompumelelo Ntuli was, apparently, one of the plotters.
While in exile, Mbeki was subject to an attempt on his life in 1986: The South African Government dispatched an assassin to Lusaka in Zambia to assassinate Thabo Mbeki by bombing his house. The plan was unsuccessful as the assassin was spotted and arrested by the Zambian authorities.
Given everything that Madiba stood for, and what he fought against, there was always going to be someone willing to take him out. Far-right extremists Boeremag wanted to overthrow the Mandela regime and reinstate apartheid, and planned to kill Tata using a roadside bomb.
Five members of the group got a 35-year prison sentence for high treason and culpable homicide after one of their explosives killed a Soweto woman in a mosque.
FW de Klerk
There have been no confirmed details of an assassination plot against de Klerk, but his ex-wife was killed in 2001. Marike was the victim of a brutal stabbing in her Cape Town home, carried out by security guard Luyanda Mboniswa within the confines of her luxury complex.
Cyril Ramaphosa: Has a South African president been victim of an assassination before?
In 1966, one of the main architects of apartheid and the South African president Hendrik Verwoerd was stabbed to death at his desk in Parliament. His assassin, Dimitri Tsafendas, claimed he was being controlled by a tapeworm which made him carry out the gruesome murder.
Verwoerd had previously survived an assassination attempt at the Rand Easter Show, where he was shot in the face twice. His grandson recently won a seat in Parliament, for the Freedom Front Plus.