Mastermind of Church Street bombing – Rashid Aboobaker Ismail

Mastermind of Church Street bombing – Rashid Aboobaker Ismail

Rashid Aboobaker Ismail was born in Lenasia near Johannesburg. Despite the “disadvantages” of the apartheid state, he obtained a BSc in Physiology and Microbiology form the University of Durban Westville in 1974.

It was here where his involvement with the ANC started. As a result of his ANC involvement, he went into exile and was trained in military matters in the former DDR – Communist East Germany. With this knowledge he became chief instructor in Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC.

In 1983 he was appointed as Commander of Special operations of MK and in this capacity he masterminded the Church Street bombing on 20 May 1983. Ismail returned to South Africa in 1990 and played an active part in the formation of the “New” SA Defense Force. He obtained a MBA in 1996. Since 1994 he carried the military rank of Major General and later became Chief of Policy and Planning with the rank of Deputy Director General.

In February 2000 he joined the South African Reserve Bank as General Manager and Head of Currency and Protection Services. The security of the Reserve Bank is also his responsibility. In proper English we would say: He landed on both feet.

Alas, the same cannot be said about the civilian victims of the bomb he planted in a motor car on that day in May, 32 years ago. The physical pain of injury and the loss of limbs and eyes is something that can never be compensated for.

The families who stood by open graves of loved ones torn away had to live with it and still need to live with it. Does Aboobaker Ismail ever lie awake in the dark of the night to ponder what happened that afternoon? Does he ever wonder whether it was justified?

He landed on his feet and the New South Africa rewarded him well. On 20 May 2015 at 10:00 in the morning we will come together at the site where the bomb exploded to pay homage to the victims of that horrible day…

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