chapter  4
30 Pages

Heinous Crimes: Community and Cross-Cultural Psychiatry, and State Mental Health Services for Non-Whites, 1948–1990

On September 6, 1966, just fi ve years after South Africa had become a republic, at around 2:14 p.m., the parliamentary bells began summoning the Members of Parliament of South Africa into the chamber. As Prime Minister H. F. Verwoerd sat down at his bench, Demetrio Tsafendas, dressed in his parliamentary messenger’s uniform, hurried up to the Prime Minister, pulled a large knife out of his uniform and stabbed him four times in the chest and neck. As Verwoerd slumped over, several members of parliament rushed to his aid, while others restrained his assassin. The Prime Minister was taken to Groote Schuur hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival. The police took Tsafendas to the Caledon Square police station. That evening, police sent Tsafendas to Groote Schuur Hospital for x-rays. He had a fractured nose and jaw, which had occurred in the scuffl e to restrain him. Isaac Sakinofsky, acting head of the Department of Psychiatry

Figure 4.1 Demetrio Tsafendas, the assassin of Verwoerd, 1966. Keystone, Hulton Archive. Reprinted by permission of Getty Images.