• Short Summary

    DR. HENDRIK VERWOERD, PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, WAS ASSASSINATED TODAY (TUESDAY)?

  • Description

    DR. HENDRIK VERWOERD, PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, WAS ASSASSINATED TODAY (TUESDAY) IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN PARLIAMENT IN CAPE TOWN. HE WAS STABBED BY A WHITE MAN, A PARLIAMENTARY MESSENGER, AND DIED BEFORE REACHING HOSPITAL, IN SPITE OF IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE GIVEN BY SEVERAL DOCTOR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT.

    DR. VERWOERD WAS THE ARCHITECT AND CHIEF APOSTLE OF SOUTH AFRICA'S POLICY OF APARTHEID, THE RIGID SEPARATION OF THE AFRICAN AND WHITE COMMUNITIES. HE KEPT UNSWERVINGLY TO HIS POLICY, DESPITE CONSTANT AND BITTER CRITICISM OF IT THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

    DR. VERWOERD WAS BORN ON SEPTEMBER 8, 1901, IN HOLLAND, BUT HIS PARENTS MOVED TO SOUTH AFRICA WHEN HE WAS 2 YEARS OLD. HE ROSE FROM PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY AT STELLENBOSCH UNIVERSITY TO PRIME MINISTER VIA THE EDITORSHIP OF A NATIONALIST AND STRONGLY ANTI-BRITISH NEWSPAPER, DIE TRANSVALER, WHICH HE HELPED LAUNCH IN 1937. HE WAS ELECTED A SENATOR IN 1948 AND BECAME MINISTER FOR NATIVE AFFAIRS IN 1950.

    WHILE MINISTER FOR NATIVE AFFAIRS HE WAS THE ARCHITECT OF SUCCESSIVE APARTHEID LAWS, WHICH HE INSISTED WOULD PROTECT WHITE RIGHTS IN WHITE AREAS AND AFRICAN RIGHTS IN AFRICAN AREAS.

    HE OCCUPIED THE POSITION FOR EIGHT YEARS UNTIL HE WAS CHOSEN PRIME MINISTER BY THE NATIONALIST PARTY IN SEPTEMBER 1958 FOLLOWING THE DEATH OF MR. JAN STRIJDOM.

    APART FROM HIS APARTHEID LAWS, DR. VERWOERD WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS THE MAN UNDER WHOM WHITE SOUTH AFRICANS ELECTED TO BECOME A REPUBLIC AND LEFT THE COMMONWEALTH. ON BECOMING PRIME MINISTER HE DECLARED THAT HIS GOAL WAS TO ACHIEVE REPUBLICAN STATUS FOR SOUTH AFRICA, AND HIS GOAL WAS ACHIEVED IN OCTOBER 1960 WHEN A REFERENDUM OF WHITE VOTERS VOTED WITH A BIG MAJORITY FOR REPUBLICANISM.

    HIS PRO-REPUBLICAN INCLINATIONS WERE PLAIN AS FAR BACK AS 1947 WHEN HIS NEWSPAPER BOYCOTTED AT OR OF THE THEN UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA BY THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY.

    SIX MONTHS AFTER BECOMING PRIME MINISTER, DR. VERWOERD INTRODUCED THE BANTU SELF GOVERNMENT BILL - PROBABLY THE MOST FAR-REACHING AND CONTROVERSIAL LEGISLATION FOR WHICH HE WAS DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE.

    THE BILL BECAME LAW IN 1960. IT PROVIDED FOR THE DIVISION OF THE AFRICAN POPULATION INTO TRIBAL UNITS, THE ABOLITION OF THE EXISTING REPRESENTATION OF AFRICANS IN PARLIAMENT, AND THE CREATION OF SELF-GOVERNING BLACK STATES.

    IT MET A SALVO OF OPPOSITION IN SOUTH AFRICA, WHERE IT BECAME KNOWN AS THE BANTUSTAN ACT.

    IT WAS SOON AFTER DR. VERWOERD'S ANNOUNCEMENT IN EARLY 1960 THAT A REFERENDUM WOULD BE HELD TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT SOUTH AFRICA SHOULD BECOME A REPUBLIC THAT POLITICS IN THE COUNTRY TOOK A VIOLENT TURN.

    IN MARCH 1960 THE AFRICAN NATIONALIST PAN AFRICAN CONGRESS CALLED FOR A NATION-WIDE CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE PASS LAW WHICH REQUIRED ALL AFRICAN MALES TO CARRY PASSES FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES.

    THE CALL WAS ANSWERED BY MASS DESTRUCTION OF PASSES....BUT IT ENDED WITH THE NOW NOTORIOUS SHARPEVILLE INCIDENT, WHEN POLICE OPENED FIRE ON AFRICANS DEMONSTRATORS KILLING 67 AND WOUNDING 183. AFRICAN NATIONALISTS CALLED IT THE SHARPEVILLE MASSACRE. OFFICIAL STATEMENTS MAINTAINED THAT THE POLICE HAD FIRED IN SELF-DEFENCE AFTER AN ARMED CROWD OF 20,000 TRIED TO STORM THE POLICE STATION.

    ON APRIL 9, 1960, CAME THE FIRST ATTEMPT ON DR. VERWOERD'S LIFE. MINUTES AFTER HE HAD OPENED AN INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR IN JOHANNESBURG HE WAS SHOT TWICE AT POINT BLANK RANGE BELOW THE RIGHT EAR AND IN THE RIGHT SIDE OF HIS NECK. HIS ALLEGED ASSAILANT, MR. DAVID PRATT, A WEALTHY ENGLISH-BORN FARMER AGED 50, WAS CHARGED WITH THE CRIME BUT WAS FOUND MENTALLY ILL AND REMOVED TO AN ASYLUM.

    DR. VERWOERD WAS CRITICALLY INJURED, BUT WAS OUT OF HOSPITAL IN SIX WEEKS, AND HIS SUPPORTERS SAID HIS RECOVERY WAS CLEAR INDICATION OF THE SUPPORT OF GOD.

    HIS REFERENDUM WAS HELD IN OCTOBER THAT YEAR AND A MAJORITY OF ABOUT 74,500 VOTED TO MAKE SOUTH AFRICA A REPUBLIC. DR. VERWOERD ARRIVED AT THE 1961 COMMONWEALTH PRIME MINISTERS' CONFERENCE IN LONDON WITH THE HOPE OF REMAINING WITHIN THE COMMONWEALTH. BUT HE WITHDREW HIS APPLICATION IN THE FACE OF STRONG OPPOSITION FROM CRITICS OF THE APARTHEID POLICY.

    ON MAY 31, 1961, THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA BECAME THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, OUTSIDE THE COMMONWEALTH. THE GOVERNOR GENERAL OF THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA, MR. SWART, WAS SWORN IN AS FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA.

    IN THE 1966 GENERAL ELECTION WHITE SOUTH AFRICANS WELCOMED DR. VERWOERD AND HIS WIFE ELIZABETH, WITH AN ARCHWAY AT THE POLLING STATION. HIS NATIONALIST PARTY WON THE ELECTION WITH AN INCREASED MAJORITY, INDICATING SUPPORT FOR HIS POLICY OF GIVING AID AND COMFORT TO THE ILLEGAL RHODESIAN REGIME WITHOUT OFFICIALLY RECOGNISING IT.

    DR. VERWOERD LEFT A WIDOW AND FIVE CHILDREN.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVAAUFTP05CRFK90YIHZI048B02K
    Media URN:
    VLVAAUFTP05CRFK90YIHZI048B02K
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    06/09/1966
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Black & White
    Duration:
    00:02:32:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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