There is no place for [the Bantu] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour … What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice? That is quite absurd. Education must train people in accordance with their opportunities in life, according to the sphere in which they live.

Dr Hendrik Verwoerd, South African minister for native affairs (Prime Minister from 1958 to 1966), speaking about his government’s education policies in the 1950s.

On 9 April 1960, a Natal farmer David Pratt attempted to assassinate Verwoerd, saying that he wanted to kill the “epitome of Apartheid”. His shots injured Verwoerd, but they did not kill him. Pratt was later declared “mentally disordered and epileptic”, and was committed to the Pretoria Central Prison on 26 September 1960. In October 1961, Pratt was reported to have hanged himself at Bloemfontein Mental Hospital.

Verwoerd was later assassinated by Dimitri Tsafendas, a mixed-race messenger of the South African parliament who had passed for white. Shortly before the assassination, Tsafendas’ application to be reclassified Coloured (he wanted to live with his girlfriend) was rejected by government. Tsafendas was diagnosed as being schizophrenic after reportedly claiming that he had a giant worm in his body that spoke to him. He was never released from prison.

 

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