Verwoerd, Hendrik Frensch


Verwoerd, Hendrik Frensch

▪ prime minister of South Africa
born Sept. 8, 1901, Amsterdam, Neth.
died Sept. 6, 1966, Cape Town, S.Af.
 South African professor, editor, and statesman who as prime minister (1958–66) rigorously applied a policy of apartheid.

      When Verwoerd was three months old his family migrated to South Africa. A brilliant scholar at the University of Stellenbosch, he was appointed professor of applied psychology there in 1927. In 1933 he changed to the chair of sociology and social work.

      Verwoerd became prominent in politics in 1937, when he was appointed editor of the new Nationalist daily, Die Transvaler, in Johannesburg. He held that post until the Nationalists won the 1948 election, when he was appointed a senator. Becoming minister of native affairs in 1950, he was responsible for much of the apartheid legislation. In the election of 1958 he won a seat in the House of Assembly, and, after the death of Prime Minister Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom, the parliamentary caucus of the Nationalists selected Verwoerd as his successor in September 1958.

      Once he was in office, Verwoerd's program for apartheid was applied in full, with an intricate system of laws separating whites, Cape Coloureds, Asians, and Africans (blacks). He pushed through the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Act in 1959; it provided for the resettlement of blacks in eight separate reservations, or Bantu Homelands (now designated black states (Bantustan)). These racial policies provoked demonstrations by blacks, which on one occasion—March 1960 at Sharpeville—led to bloodshed. On Oct. 5, 1960, white voters by a small majority approved his recommendation that South Africa leave the Commonwealth, and Verwoerd's dream of a republic came true on May 31, 1961.

      On April 9, 1960, a deranged white farmer shot Verwoerd in an assassination attempt that failed. Six years later Verwoerd was stabbed to death in the parliamentary chamber by a temporary parliamentary messenger, Demetrio Tsafendas, a Mozambique immigrant of mixed racial descent.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Verwoerd, Hendrik (Frensch) — born Sept. 8, 1901, Amsterdam, Neth. died Sept. 6, 1966, Cape Town, S.Af. Dutch born South African prime minister (1958–66). He was taken to South Africa as an infant by his missionary parents. After studying at the University of Stellenbosch, he …   Universalium

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