Anton Theodor August Wilfried Lubowski

Names: Lubowski, Anton Theodor August Wilfried

Born: 3 February 1953, South West Africa (Namibia)

Died: 12 September 1989, Windhoek, Namibia

In summary: political prisoner, advocate, Member of the Windhoek, Namibia Bar, Secretary of Finance and Administration of the National Union of Namibian Workers, member of SWAPO, initiated the NAMLAW Project, Deputy Secretary for Finance and Administration in the SWAPO Election Directorate, Member of the SWAPO Central Committee, recipient of the Austrian Bruno Kreisky Price for Achievements in Human Rights.

Anton Theodor August Wilfried Lubowski was born on 3 February 1953, in South West Africa (now known as Namibia), the second child of Wilfried Franz and Molly Lubowski. He was the first boy in the fifth generation of the Lubowski family in Namibia.

At the age of thirteen, Lubowski was sent to Stellenbosch to complete his schooling, which he did in 1970. After school, Lubowski went for military service as was compulsory for all young, White males at the time. He then went to study law first at the University of Stellenbosch, and later graduated from the University of Cape Town with a LL.B. degree.

After his studies, he worked as an Articled Clerk in Windhoek and joined the law firm, Lorentz and Bone in 1978. He joined the Windhoek Bar in 1980 and was elected to the Luderitz Foundation Regional Committee where he worked for the economic improvement of the town. It was during this period of his life that he became politically active.

During 1979 Lubowski joined the Namibia National Front (NNF), but, according to his father, “he took his first steps towards SWAPO (South West African Peoples Organisation) within hours after he had walked into the officesof the law firm when he was instructed to visit a Black client in jail.”

Lubowski is said to have felt that the main difference between the NNF and SWAPO was in the economic sphere: He held that the NNF stood for a mixed economy while SWAPO stood for a socialistic economy.

As an advocate he was a Member of the Windhoek, Namibia, Bar. He defended political prisoners and got involved with the Namibian trade union movement as Secretary of Finance and Administration of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW). He joined SWAPO officially in 1984. Before 1989 he had no official party position but he frequently made public statements on behalf of SWAPO. He initiated the NAMLAW Project, a legal research organisation to draft legislation for Namibia after independence.

Lubowski received the Austrian Bruno Kreisky Price for Achievements in Human Rights. As a SWAPO activist he was detained six times by the South African authorities. In 1989 he became Deputy Secretary for Finance and Administration in the SWAPO Election Directorate. Shortly before his death he was elected to the SWAPO Central Committee.

On 12 September 1989, bullets fired from a passing car struck Lubowski as he alighted from his vehicle, briefcase in hand, in front of his home in Windhoek.

When he died, Lubowski was 37 years old, leaving behind his wife, Garbielle Lubowski (née Schuster) and his two young children, Almo and Nadia.

On 23 June, 1994, Judge Harold Levy, sitting in the High Court of Namibia, found that Lubowski had been shot dead by Donald Acheson, an Irish national. Judge Levy ruled that the killer or killers had been acting on the instructions of the bizarrely named South African Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB), a shadowy unit of the South African Defence Force.

At a press conference at the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in Cape Town, in April 2010, Lubowski's former wife Gabrielle, children Almo and Nadia, and sisters, Annaliese Lubowski and Joleen du Plessis presented the letter they received from the prosecuting authorities explaining why a prosecution would not be pursued.

Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions Chris Macadam wrote to LRC attorney Steve Kahanovitz: "In light of the Constitutional Court ruling in S v Wouter Basson, a South African Court would only have jurisdiction in the event of him having been killed as a consequence of a conspiracy formulated in South Africa. The South African Court could adjudicate the matter on a charge of conspiracy, not murder." The crimes of conspiracy to commit murder and accessory after the fact had become prescribed after 20 years, unlike murder, he said.

Macadam said the absconded murder suspect, Donald Acheson, told Namibian authorities he was recruited by the Apartheid government's clandestine Civilian Co-Operation Bureau (CCB) to commit violence in Namibia, but denied killing Lubowski.

Although statements by CCB members Abram van Zyl, Ferdinand Barnard and Carl Botha raised "strong suspicion, what was clearly lacking was a credible witness who could confirm the existence of the conspiracy and with the necessary reliability, identify the relevant co-conspirators". Macadam offered to let the family see the statements.

To the family, it appeared that the current administration had no political will to resolve what had been labelled an Apartheid government crime. The family said that a sinister motive was believable considering the death threats they received and police dockets that disappeared over the years. The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, which had been assisting them, also hit a brick wall when it tried to facilitate talks with Apartheid South Africa’s Defence Minister Magnus Malan.

But the circumstances of his death have raised some spectacular claims that he was a South African spy, a stooge of the Apartheid regime, a secret agent. Such claims, however, were quelled in various books and publications that came out after his death. Riaan Labuschagne in his book ‘South Africa’s Secret Service – An undercover agent’s story’ in early 2000 wrote that Lubowski was not a spy of the South African military intelligence as was alleged by the former South African Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan. At a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearing in South Africa, veteran investigative journalist from South Africa, Max du Preez, countered such claims, calling these accusations smear campaigns of the old South African regime.

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