Assault in St George’s Cathedral: apartheid police run riot
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.”
Police push protesters into a riot van.