Sept. 6, 1966: African Prime Minister assassinated by Knifer
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH Africa (AP) — Prime Minister Hendrik F. Verwoerd died today at the hands of a white assassin.
The assailant, in the uniform of a parliamentary messenger, stabbed Verwoerd as he sat in Parliament. He plunged a knife into the symbol of South Africa’s white supremacy rule, then stabbed him twice more as he slumped on his desk with blood gushing from the wounds. A pool of blood formed on the green carpet.
Horrified members of Parliament quickly subdued the assailant. Verwoerd, 64, was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital.
The senior Cabinet minister, Theophilus Donges — who became acting prime minister — announced the leader’s death to Parliament a little more than an hour later.
Donges identified the assassin as a temporary messenger in Parliament. He said the assailant was under arrest but that his motives were not known.
Appealing to the nation to remain calm, Donges said the Cabinet would continue its normal work and the police “would leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this dastardly deed.” He said the public should not speculate or “lose their heads.”
Verwoerd’s death, the most notorious pollical assassination since that of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, promises no changes in South Africa’s apartheid policy. His Nationalist party will pick the new prime minister.
Several doctors who are members of Parliament rushed to the side of the man who became the symbol of South Africa’s racial segregation.
The attack took place while the bells were ringing summoning the House of Assembly for the start of the session.
Soon after Verwoerd had taken his seat on the front bench the assassin walked toward him.
Verwoerd looked up as if he expected the messenger was going to speak to him. The assassin then plunged the knife into Verwoerd’s neck.
Verwoerd slumped at his desk, his head down, his face white. One doctor tried to revive him by giving him mouth-to-mouth “kiss of life” resuscitation.
This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.
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