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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

The 70's riot control - Jimmy Kruger

40. In the 1970s, as resistance to apartheid grew, the police began to see the need for a specialised capacity to 'control unrest'. The SAP looked to international models and introduced new training methods and full-time riot control units.

41. The SAP was not equipped to deal with a domestic uprising of the scale they faced in June 1976. Police who faced massive protest marches at that time were ordinary officers drawn from nearby stations, with no special skills or training in crowd control. Their lack of capacity was reflected in their tendency to use maximum force. Minister of Police Jimmy Kruger reported at the cabinet meeting of 10 August 1976 that unrest in Soweto continued and that the children were "well-trained".The Minister proposed that: "This movement must be broken, and the police should perhaps act a bit more drastically and harshly, bringing about more deaths." [Commission translation.] This proposal was approved.

42. In a parliamentary discussion in July 1976 on the desirability of police wearing protective clothing in unrest situations, Jimmy Kruger responded:

To have our police running around like knights of the Middle Ages, heavily armoured with coats-of-mail and visors, and goodness knows what else - policemen in such garb pursuing fleet-footed little Bantu all over the veld - is something I can hardly imagine. Not only would it be ridiculous, it is also completely unnecessary. In any case, a police officer will hardly be able to handle his rifle if he is also wearing a heavy flak jacket and a face guard.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.