In the shadows of the archive: Investigating the Paarl March of November 22nd 1962
This thesis is concerned with an uprising which occurred during the early morning hours of the 22nd of November 1962 in Paarl- a small agricultural town some 60 kilometres northeast of Cape Town. On this occasion a group of about 250 men, armed with axes, pangas and other home-made weapons, marched from the nearby Mbekweni township to the police station in the town's centre. An event, which lasted no more than three hours, left seven dead and several wounded in its wake. This uprising was a comparatively small event, with comparatively few casualties but it took place against the backdrop of the turn to armed struggle which followed the banning of the African National Congress (hereafter the ANC) and the Pan African Congress (hereafter the PAC). However in the sense that it seemed to directly threaten white civilians, this was an event constructed as most closely resembling the anti-colonialist Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya between 1952 and 1960 during which time press reports focused most often of the brutal killings of white women and children by groups represented as violent "terrorist gangs." Informed by this kind of over-simplified propaganda of the war in Kenya, the events in Paarl, particularly the killing of 17 year old Rentia Vermeulen and 21 year old Frans Richard, as well as the attack on an elderly couple in their bed, by men with "primitive weapons," incited massive latent white anxieties throughout South Africa and intensive repressive measures.