However, shortly afterwards, John accepted an invitation to become an African editor of the independent radical publishing house, Zed Books, whose guiding spirit was Rob Molteno, one of his former colleagues in NUSAS
. John had all the qualities an academic publisher and editor needs --passion combined with sympathy for writers and commitment to quality.
The arrest in July 1964 of a number of recent leading figures in NUSAS (Adrian Leftwich, Hugh Lewin, John Lloyd, Stephanie Kemp, David de Keller, Selina Molteno, Lynette van der Riet and others) on charges of sabotage for their activities in the African Resistance Movement (ARM) triggered a barrage of National Party vitriol and efforts by government-funded conservative student groupings on the English-language campuses to get them to disaffiliate from NUSAS.
The then President of NUSAS, Jonty Driver, had just delivered a fiery but rather pontificating speech to the assembled freshmen, and now invited questions.