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ANC condemns murders of elderly Cape Town Jewish couple

  • TaliBlochMurders
During the darkest days of apartheid, Rosalie Bloch sheltered families of detainees and apartheid activists in the lounge of her home in Mowbray, Cape Town. On Saturday, her body and that of her husband, Aubrey Jackson, were found in that same lounge, after they had been tied up and killed in what police are saying is a robbery gone wrong.
by TALI FEINBERG | May 10, 2018

Lance Bloch, Rosalie’s son, explains: “My brother, Shaun, found their bodies after calling them to find out if they were ready to go out for breakfast. It was supposed to be a celebratory morning for my niece’s birthday and my nephew returning from overseas.”

Lance is one of Rosalie’s seven children – she had six sons and a daughter. His mother was 84 years old and Jackson, 94. She and her first husband Cecil Bloch had divorced and she subsequently met Jackson, a widower, through their children. The two had been together for 30 years.

“On the scene, a window had been broken, both of them had been tied up and Aubrey had been hit on his  head. My mother was suffocated with pillows,” says an emotional Bloch.

“A week ago, someone tried to break in, so we think it was the same people as they used the same entry point. We suspect that they may have demanded valuables and when they didn’t have any, they killed them.

Bloch also suspects the brutal way they were treated may have been the result of the attackers being on drugs. The police are currently viewing CCTV footage from a nearby guesthouse and have identified three suspects, two men and a woman. No arrests have been made but the case is "a priority crime investigation," says Bloch.

In a rare acknowledgement of violent crime in South Africa, the ANC released a statement condemning the double murder: “The ANC is saddened to learn of the brutal, callous and cold-blooded killing of comrade Graeme Bloch’s parents, Rosalie Bloch 84 and Aubrey Jackson 96 [sic – actually 94], who were found murdered in their Rosebank home in Cape Town today.”

Graeme is a well-known education expert who fought in the struggle. He is married to anti-apartheid activist Cheryl Carolus, and they had their wedding at the same house where his mother was found murdered.

“We strongly condemn the cowardly act visited on the defenceless and elderly. It is disheartening to note that we still have amongst us those who are determined to trample on other people’s right to live, driven by selfish and cruel intentions. These are elements that must be isolated and locked away to rid our society of heartless criminals,” continued the ANC’s statement.

“Law enforcement agencies must leave no stone unturned in their quest to ensure that perpetrators of this heinous crime are caught and face the full might of the law. We further call on all South Africans to act in concert to ensure that criminals have nowhere to hide.”

The Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies expressed its condolences and said that Aubrey’s father, Abraham M Jackson, served as chairman of the Cape Board from 1946 to 1949 – and that under his chairmanship, the United Communal Fund was established.

“He played a remarkable role in many Jewish communal organisations and in the greater Cape Town community throughout his life,” said the Cape Board’s executive director, Joshua Hovsha. “Abraham was Life President of the Green and Sea Point Hebrew Congregation and a former chairman of the Community Chest, and was fondly known as ‘the fighting Irishman’.

“The Cape Board is horrified that violent crime remains disturbingly high in South Africa and is perplexed by the senseless killings of this elderly couple. We hope that the perpetrators of this crime will be apprehended and brought to justice swiftly.”

The United Democratic Front (UDF) Veterans’ Network wrote on Facebook: “Rosalie was fiercely opposed to apartheid and was totally supportive of the UDF. She made her house available for meetings of UDF comrades who were in hiding in the ’80s. Rosalie was an active member of the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee and participated in night vigils protesting against the detention of her son, Graeme, and other UDF activists.”

Lance Bloch remembers home telephone being tapped, family members being followed and vehicles parked outside their home. “She [Rosalie] was a lawyer who helped parents track down detained teens and other relatives fighting apartheid; and she fearlessly stood up to security bosses..

Bloch shares that his family had discussed moving the couple to a care facility, but they had wanted to stay in their large home so that they could host family when they visited. “They also did not want an electric fence and high walls – they didn’t want to live in a prison, and I admire that.”

He adds that the couple had brought out the best in each other and that they had been fully enjoying their retirement. Aubrey still consulted as a civil engineer and Rosalie had remained active in civil society, attending a Black Sash event just 10 days before her murder. They had enjoyed travelling, going to the theatre and the movies, and attending summer and winter school at the university. It had been a true romance and “in a way, I’m glad they went together”, says Bloch.

He hopes that despite the senselessness and tragedy of their murder, this will “strike a chord in government and be a turning point in taking serious action to fight the scourge of violent crime in this country, as opposed to the pretence that we’ve seen so far”.

 He said his mother “loved South Africa and wouldn’t want people to leave [because of what happened to her]. She taught her children that we are part of Africa and must live according to the Jewish values of justice, compassion and tolerance. She would want people to stay and continue making the impact that Jews have made in this country.”

On Twitter, people from across the spectrum expressed shock and anger. “What a beautiful couple. Both senselessly murdered in the same lounge of her Mowbray house which she used for secret meetings about detainees during the struggle against the apartheid regime,” wrote Trevor Wells. Another tweeted: “Horrified and saddened – the repugnant violence in our society continues its corrosive and annihilating destruction – there will be little left of our humanity if not addressed.”

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