In 1937 Heard forecast the Budget with such accuracy that the Government
felt obliged to order a magisterial inquiry in terms of the Criminal Procedure
Act. Heard refused to testify, submitting that the ethics of journalism
forebade him to disclose his source of information. He was sentenced to
eight day's imprisonment, which was suspended to permit an appeal.
The appeal, which involved weighty constitutional and ethical issues, was
rejected by the Cape Supreme Court. Before a further appeal could be brought
before the Appellate Division, the Government ended the matter by discharging
Heard's committal to prison. In September 1939 Heard was involved
in lobbying for South Africa to enter the war on the Allied side.
the declaration of war, he exposed what he claimed were security breaches
and Nazi sympathies in the SABC. Some dismissals and internments followed.
Heard coined the terms Malanzi and communazi. Such public asperity contrasted
with his private gentleness and gift for warm personal relationships, notably
with his political adversaries. Though he favoured aid for Russia and the
opening of a second front, there is no reason to suppose that Heard was
a Marxist. However, he was certainly sympathetic to the mild brand of socialism
espoused by the white Labour Party of that era. In 1942 his employers became
restive about his political activities, particularly his public speeches
on controversial issues. Faced with an ultimatum to stop speaking in public,
Heard resigned, and, at great financial sacrifice, joined South Africa's
embryonic naval forces in the lowest of all ranks as an able-bodied seaman.
He was later commissioned and attained the rank of lieutenant.
While on home leave with his family in Johannesburg in 1945, and with the
end of the war in sight, he spoke of his firm intention to re-enter journalism
as soon as he was demobilized. Back in Cape Town, he disappeared without
a trace. Prominent among the many theories about his disappearance are accidental
death and murder, perhaps political murder. Those who take the political
line cite an earlier statement to Heard by a senior policeman that he was
'high on the Ossewa-Brandwag's death list'. However, there
is no evidence to support this or any other theory.
An application by his wife for presumption of death was turned down by the
Supreme Court in 1947, but succeeded in 1952. Heard's name is engraved
at the Plymouth Naval Memorial in Britain in the section for those with
no known grave. Heard married Vida Stodden in 1932. His wife was the editor
of Homestead, a supplement to the Farmer's Weekly.
Their elder son, Raymond, became a journalist in Canada and later a government
advisor to a leading Canadian bank. The younger son, Anthony, was editor
of the Cape Times from 1971 to 1987, after which he became a freelance writer
in Cape Town.
- South African History Online -