The 'bragging' killer: Who is Ferdi Barnard?

After spending over 20 years in prison, David Webster’s killer – Ferdi Barnard – will be now released on parole.

FILE: Former Transport Minister Dullah Omar (R) makes a concilliatory gesture to convicted killer and former apartheid assassin Ferdi Barnard (left) during a break at a hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in Cape Town 02 October 2000. Ferdi Barnard applied for amnesty for the attempted murder of Omar. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - “On a public holiday morning in 1989 he was assassinated outside his home in Troyeville, shot at close range with a shotgun.”

These are the words from the archival transcripts of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings on the killing of anti-apartheid activist David Webster who was murdered outside his house in Johannesburg by Ferdi Barnard.

After spending over 20 years in prison, Webster’s killer – Barnard – will be now released on parole, effective next month.

However, the road to justice was not easy and it was finally granted almost a decade after the shooting.

“Six months later the chief suspect in the killing, Ferdi Barnard was himself detained under the Internal Security Act. He was released for lack of evidence. A year after the killing, the Harms Commission failed to get to the bottom of Webster’s death. At least two other commissions also failed. At the inquest into the murder two and a half years after the fact, Barnard was again the chief suspect. But the judge, unable to negotiate his way through the morass of lies and intimidated witnesses, effectively let Barnard off.”

It is said in the archives that prior to his trial, Barnard showed no remorse but in fact bragged about the killing.

Bernard was a former agent of the Civil Co-Operation Bureau.

A number of commissions into the killing let Barnard off the hook until in 1996, his then-girlfriend Amore Badenhorst told the _Rapport _newspaper everything Barnard had told her about the murder.

By this time, Barnard was battling a drug addiction and had been using all his money on the habit.

This then led to the reopening of the case.

WATCH: TRC Episode 81, Part 03 looks into Webster's murder.


In February 1998, Badenhorst testified in the Pretoria High Court against Barnard because, according to her, she’d been driven by her conscience to make things right for those who’d been hurt by her former partner’s actions.

She was the first witness to testify in the trial. Barnard had pleaded not guilty to 34 charges including murder, attempted murder, fraud, intimidation and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

On 1 June 1998, Barnard was found guilty of Webster’s murder.

In 2015, Barnard had applied for parole but was denied.

He will now serve out the remainder of his term supervised by a community corrections officer outside the prison walls.