Sidney Percival Bunting
- Born: 30 Jun 1873, Somers Town, London
- Marriage: Rebecca Notlowiz on 22 Dec 1916
- Died: 25 May 1936, Johannesburg aged 62
Elder son of Sir Percy Bunting. Born 30.6.1873 in London at Somers Town (Kings Cross). Educated at University College School, St. Paul's (with GK Chesterton) and Magdalen College, Oxford (with a demyship, or scholarship) from autumn 1892. At Oxford he joined the Wesley Guild. First class degree in 1896 but failed to gain a fellowship. However in 1897 he won the supreme Vice-Chancellor's prize for Latin prose with his paper Res Nautica Apud Antiquos (Naval Matters amongst the Ancients - copies in archive). This was child's play to him as one of the most brilliant scholars known at Oxford. Distinguished violinist and pianist. Articled as a trainee solicitor to Freshfields and admitted a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England 2.5.1900. Attended Kreisler's first concert in London. Arrived in South Africa in June 1900 - believed to have gone with the intention of fighting in the Boer War but also of staying. Lieutenant in the 2nd Brabants Horse 1901 and the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles 1902: Queen's War Medal, 3 bars. Admitted as a solicitor in South Africa 27.11.1902. Member in Johannesburg of the Athenaeum, the German Club and the Rand Club from whose balcony members are reputed to have opened fire on striking (white) miners 5.7.1913. The leading figure in the South African Communist Party (formed 1921), from the time of the formation of the predecessor International Socialist League in 1915 until his expulsion from the Party circa 2.9.1931 as a result of Soviet (anti-white) influence. Principal lackeys of Moscow in this were Douglas Wolton and a Latvian called Lazar Bach. (The latter died in a concentration camp in North East Siberia 10.3.1941 having, as per Bibliography 18, played his cards badly in a debate with Moses Kotane in Moscow in 1935 before the Marty Commission of the Comintern). A harshly intolerant, ultra-left period ensued in the leadership, which cost the Party untold damage in membership and influence (Bibliography 10). Imprisoned various times. August 1922: first visit to Moscow for 4th Comintern Congress. Resigned as director of the Lidgetton Land Company April 1923 though remaining a shareholder. 1928: second visit to Moscow for 6th Comintern Congress. 1929; fought a debilitating election campaign in Tembuland in the Transkei (the constituency containing both Buntingville and Old Bunting). By this stage the two children had been left in the care of others by Sidney and Rebecca for much of two years. Sidney was described by Chris Hani, general secretary of the South African Communist Party until his assassination in 1993, as "a shrewd tenacious communist. Once his ideas were formed he acted on them". However Roux repeatedly denigrated him as slow thinking and unable to make up his mind in a crisis while, however, crediting his tremendous drive and persistence. Substantial dividends from the Lidgetton Land Company were largely what enabled him to live while heavily occupied with the political lost cause, and financially unrewarding human rights legal cases. He and Rebecca were Puritan about alcohol. He subsidised the Communist Party heavily out of his own meagre resources. He wore big boots, having a family proneness to sprained ankle. He had an extraordinary memory. Developed acromegaly, atherosclerosis and arthritis. Died following a stroke (of the rupture and haemorrhage type) 25.5.1936, impoverished, as caretaker since February 1936 of a block of flats in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. (This was the Art Deco Circle Court, on Clarendon Circle, at the bottom of Twist Street of dubious repute). His last pamphlet, "An African Prospect" (December 1933 - copy in archive), made proposals for development of collectivised agriculture and indeed a general redemption of Africa. In 1989 the Communist Party of South Africa reinstated him (article, The African Communist fourth quarter 1989).
Sidney married Rebecca Notlowiz on 22 Dec 1916. (Rebecca Notlowiz was born on 9 Jan 1888 in Vilni, Lithuania and died on 8 Nov 1970 in London.)