News of yet another shooting incident came from the troubled South Africa April 9. But?
News of yet another shooting incident came from the troubled South Africa April 9. But the victim this time was not coloured. It was Premier Hendriks Verwoerd, the self-styled "Architect of Apartheid". Two bullets from a small calibre pistol were fired into his face from close range--by a white man--as he sat in the President's box awaiting prize presentations for this year's Agricultural and Industrial Show at Milner Park, Johannesburg.
Recent development in this lovely country, said to be so beautiful that even those who hate it can hardly bear to leave it, have evoked international criticism, scorn and protestation. To find a reason for the present strife, it is necessary to go back to the 17th century when Jan van Riebeeck led the vanguard of the first white settlers. These Dutch descended Afrikaners pushed their farms and towns across the rich Veldt with great personal courage..but at the expense of the Bushmen and Hottentot inhabitants.
Passing from Dutch to British colonial rule, the Union of South Africa was granted Independent Sovereignty within the British Commonwealth in 1910. Relations between the two white factors continued on an apparently amicable footing - although the intense Afrikaan nationalist feelings were over present - until 1948, when eleven million coloured inhabitants and one million South Africans of British descent waited anxiously after Dr Daniel Malan and his Afrikaner Nationalist Party had deposed Field Marshal Jan Smuts' United Party in a General Election.
Their fears were justified. The formidably organised Afrikaners set to work to build a new Republic, the foundation of which is strictly racialist. Although racial segregation had always been practised to some extent, the Nationalist passed a series of laws of intensify their policy of "White supremacy".....the world now knows this policy as "Apartheid".
These laws have banned all mixed marriages(1949); disenfranchised all non-whites(1956); segregated all schools and churches(1957); created 'Bantustan' areas for Africans, forcing them to live outside white communities(1959); The most recent Pass Law compels all Africans above the age of 16 to carry a reference pass book at all times. Failure to comply renders them liable to instant arrest.
Rumbles of African discontent over this hated law spread throughout the Union. Anti-pass demonstrations became commonplace. In almost every instance, the African woman was predominant. On December 5, 1956, one hundred and fifty-six men and women of all races were arrested in Pretoria on allegations of high treason. 65 were discharged after a preparatory hearing lasting a year. It was decided to bring the remainder to trial in batches, the first of which began in 1958. The trials are now in their fourth year.
Although united in their frustrations, the Africans lacked leadership. The majority looked towards ex-Chief Albert Luthuli and his African Nationalist Congress. Another outspoken opponent of Apartheid is the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, Dr. Ambrose Reeves. In protest against what he called "restriction of expression and movement", Dr Reeves left South Africa and sought sanctuary in Swaziland.
Dr Reeves is second in hierarchy to the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr. Joost de Blank, who, in a public statement issued April 11, said that unless the Dutch Reformed Church repudiated Apartheid, the "Anglican Church in South Africa can no longer be linked with Dutch Reformed Churches in the World Council of Churches." He had asked the World Council to send a fact-finding team out to South Africa. "To every African the Dutch Reformed Churches are known to be closely identified with the Government, and many Ministers are known to be members. It is for this reason that the future of the Christian faith in South Africa is today so largely in their hands."
After the death of Premier Strijdom, Dr Verwoerd assumed leadership of the Nationalist Party and, in the 1958 elections, was swept back into power, winning 102 of the 163 seats in South Africa's Parliament.
Another Apartheid restriction, forbidding Africans to purchase intoxicating spirits, led to severe rioting January 1960 in Cato Manor, a Johannesburg slum area. Again featuring the African woman. The restriction led to a profitable industry for women of the African townships who brewed their own beer. There were armed clashes with the police when they searched for the broke up the illicit stills.
In response to a call by the African National Congress, thousands of Africans burned or deliberately left their pass-books at home on March 21, and presented themselves for mass arrest at police stations throughout the country. At Sharpeville, near Johannesburg, and Langa, near Cape Town, police opened fire on demonstrators, killing 71 and wounding 180.
Armed police and Saracen armoured cars were hastily re-enforced by units of mobilized militia, and a State of emergency was proclaimed in certain districts in a anticipation of reciprocal violence. Apart from 'Day of Mourning" token strikes and sporadic demonstrations in some areas, all was comparatively calm.
Cato Manor again came into prominence when thousands of Africans gathered for a mass march into Durban to demand the release of their arrested leaders. This time persuasion proved a better weapon and many were talked into returning home. Others, who managed to evade police roadblocks, entered the city but were ejected after a few skirmishes with police.
The news from Sharpeville and Langa produced an international protest. Anti-Apartheid demonstrations occurred in most world capitals and cities. German students gathered in silent protest outside the South African legation in Cologne. Banner slogans read; "Lincoln set the Negro free. Why is he still in slavery". Australian police were active when thousands thronged Sydney's streets to show their disgust. A straw effigy of Premier Verwoerd, hanging by the neck from a rope, was carried in a Calcutta, India, procession. Londoners were more physically demonstrative.
The British capital's police, famous for courtesy and patience, were compelled to be very firm when dispersing incensed demonstrators outside South Africa House.
Proposed by twenty-eight Afro-Asian states, and supported by many other member countries, the United Nations Security Council agreed to a special meeting of the Council to discuss the South African situation, described as being a "danger to international peace and security."
Latest reports from South Africa indicate that security forces have apparently restored order. Thousands of Africans city workers ignored Apr.19 calls from the unified African Nationalist Congress and the Pan-Africanist Congress to stay at home in a nation wide general strike, and went to work as usual.
At the invitation of the South African Government, United Nations Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjoeld, will go to London, U.K. in May for talks with South African Minister for External Affairs, Eric Louw, about the Security Council's April 1 resolution against the Union's racial policy.
The resolution urges South African to end segregation. It also asks that the Union Government be consulted in arrangements for upholding the principles of the United Nations Human Rights Charter.