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Gordin’s family mourn the man, the mensch, the maverick



The wife of award-winning retired journalist, author, and poet, Jeremy Gordin, said he was “the love of her life”, and the family was battling to pick up the pieces after his brutal murder during a house robbery at their Johannesburg home three weeks ago.

“It’s unreal, so hard to believe, so senseless,” said Deborah Gordin.

Gordin, 70, was killed in the family’s Parkview home on the evening of 31 March – the same day the couple celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. They had shared more than 30 years in the tree-lined suburban home, marking every celebration, triumph, and tragedy there.

“It was the only house we’d ever lived in as a family,” said Deborah, adding that it was too painful to go back now following a crime so heinous it had shattered the family’s world.

She and the couple’s two adult children, Jake, 28 and Nina, 24, had been back to the house only once since the incident to collect important documents, and were staying at close friends’ homes away from the crime scene.

Sadly, she said her grandmother’s diamond wedding ring and Jeremy’s silver wedding band were missing, amongst other items.

Deborah and Nina were in Cape Town, and grew concerned when Gordin didn’t respond to messages. A friend gained access to the couple’s house, finding his body and the house ransacked.

She said Jeremy, who was proudly Jewish, was looking forward to eating his favourite annual chicken soup and kneidlach over Pesach, but instead was buried on 5 April erev Passover at Westpark Cemetery.

A seventh suspect in the case, Siphamandla Ndlovu, appeared briefly in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on Monday, 17 April. His case was postponed to 24 April.

A further six suspects, all of whom are believed to be from Zimbabwe, appeared last Friday, 14 April. They are Mhilisi Moyo, Kwanele Kanye, Melvin Ndlovu, Thandazani Mangena, Timothy Thebe, and Richmond Mhlanga. Their case was postponed to 21 April. They have been charged with possession of suspected stolen property and receiving suspected stolen property. Charges of murder and robbery are still being investigated, said police.

At this stage, all seven remain in custody, and the investigation is at a sensitive stage. More arrests are expected as police continue to hunt down suspects.

It’s understood that Gordin’s old metallic Mercedes Benz was allegedly sold on, passing through a number of hands before it was located in Auckland Park near the University of Johannesburg, leading police and security companies to track several more suspects.

“It’s cold comfort hearing about the arrests. It doesn’t bring him back,” said Deborah, “It’s all a bit of a blur, but we’re taking things day by day.”

Tributes have continued to pour in for the veteran journalist who touched many lives.

Gordin was born in Pretoria in 1952. His mother was an school English teacher and his father a pharmacist. The family spent eight years in Vietnam when Jeremy was a young boy.

He studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and cultivated extensive knowledge about the history of the Jewish people and the Middle East conflict.

“He was Jewish to his core,” said Deborah “and although he wasn’t religious, could converse with rabbis about the Talmud.”

According to all who knew him, he was widely read, called a spade a spade, and didn’t suffer fools gladly. He lived in many countries including the United States, and married late, forever referring to Deborah as “his gorgeous wife”.

Gordin started his almost 50-odd-year-long journalism career at the Rand Daily Mail. He was the launch editor of Playboy Magazine, an editor at The Star and Sunday Independent, and the author of Zuma: A Biography. He helped set up Independent Newspapers in South Africa; helped launch Business Report; and helped set up the Daily Sun. He loved poetry, wrote some himself, and was working on a dissertation on Maimonides, said his family.

He was also the ghost writer for The Towering Inferno on Bob Aldworth, and helped chronicle the story of the life of apartheid-era killer Eugene de Kock in the book A Long Night’s Damage.

Most recently he wrote for Politicsweb.

In a tribute in Daily Maverick, John Battersby, the former editor of the Sunday Independent, wrote that five months before Gordin’s murder, he wrote “an eerily prophetic letter” to Jake and Nina, urging them to consider leaving South Africa to live elsewhere.

He had a long association with the University of the Witwatersrand Centre for Journalism both as a mentor and a teacher for the centre’s post-graduate programmes, and as head of the Wits Justice Project, which focused on the plight of prisoners who had been unfairly or unjustly imprisoned.

Gordin was one of a handful of journalists to defend the SA Jewish Report when it was controversially expelled by the Press Council of South Africa even after it had withdrawn its membership several months prior, over a controversial antisemitic cartoon posted on the Facebook page of the South African Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions coalition. Gordin said the matter had been handled “moronically”.

At a memorial service held a few days after the funeral, Jake read a poem written by his father when his own father had passed away, titled Kaddish. Nina, told mourners that her father was “the greatest father”.

“I loved, adored, and respected him. He was the first person I spoke to about anything, because I knew there was nothing he couldn’t help me with. He taught me what’s important in life: not accolades, material positions, or popularity, but how to be a good person, how to stand up for yourself and others, to continue learning and gaining knowledge, and to love.”

Gordin’s sister, Ruth, lamented, “I thought Jeremy would remain in my life forever – serious, interesting, funny, kind, and loving. Someone I knew I could trust. It wasn’t to be.”

Police and security personnel are working hard to bring those responsible for his untimely passing to book.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Devora Even-Tov

    Apr 20, 2023 at 12:28 pm

    Baruch Dayan HaEmet

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