Saturday, January 20, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Anti-Apartheid Lawyer Harold Wolpe, 70


CAPE TOWN - Harold Wolpe, an anti-apartheid lawyer who was the target of one of white-led South Africa's biggest manhunts, died early today at age 70.

Wolpe suffered a heart attack Jan. 11 and underwent open-heart surgery Wednesday to repair the damage. He died just after midnight, never having regained full consciousness after the operation, family members said.

A member of the South African Communist Party, Wolpe represented anti-apartheid figures in the 1950s and 1960s and helped plan anti-government actions by the Communist Party and the then-banned African National Congress (ANC).

He was arrested in 1963 after police raided a Communist Party-ANC hideout in suburban Johannesburg and detained top ANC leaders.

Wolpe, Arthur Goldreich and two other men then escaped from a Johannesburg jail by bribing a guard, setting off one of the nation's largest manhunts.

For days Wolpe and Goldreich, both white Communists, hid in safe houses until they were finally taken to neighboring Swaziland in the trunk of a car.

Dressed as priests, the two men eventually flew to the former British protectorate of Bechuanaland, now Botswana, and arranged a flight to Tanzania, where they were met by a horde of journalists.

Wolpe moved to England, where his family joined him. He worked for two decades as a sociologist at the University of Essex, then moved back to South Africa with his wife in 1991. White rule ended three years later.

Since then, Wolpe had directed the Education Policy Unit at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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