As­sault in St Ge­orge’s Cathe­dral: apartheid po­lice run riot

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

THERE was, as the Week­end Ar­gus said on the first Satur­day of June, 1972, “no threat to the peace of a balmy Fri­day af­ter­noon”, nor, in fact, any threat to “law and or­der”.

But law and or­der, back then, im­plied com­pla­cent obe­di­ence, and the stu­dents who protested on the steps of St Ge­orge’s Cathe­dral against apartheid laws had over­stepped the mark.

The re­sult – a vi­o­lent reaction from the po­lice – cre­ated a spec­ta­cle, though tame by the stan­dards of polic­ing a decade hence. Here is a re­port from the day af­ter.

An eye­wit­ness said: “It was un­be­liev­able. They chased him round and round the cathe­dral.

“He was run­ning for his life. And then they dragged him away from the al­tar.

“The whole cathe­dral was echo­ing with screams.”

A tall, bearded stu­dent said three uni­formed po­lice­men had pur­sued him 15m in­side the cathe­dral, rain­ing blows on his body and the back of his head with trun­cheons in their ef­forts to catch him.

An­other stu­dent said the po­lice had laid into the girls with those trun­cheons. “It was quite sick. They were cry­ing, and hold­ing their heads.”

PIC­TURE: IN­DE­PEN­DENT NEWS­PA­PERS AR­CHIVE/UCT

Po­lice push protesters into a riot van.

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