TODAY IN HISTORY: Riots in Cato Manor – 24 January 1960



Cato Manor riots sparked by forced removals. Picture by Laurie Bloomfield

Cato Manor, a shanty town, is situated 10 kilometres from the centre of Durban; it was named after Durban’s first mayor, George Christopher Cato. The area has a remarkably rich history of culture and politics.

In the 1950s, the area had become a political hotbed, with Chief Albert Luthuli soliciting support for the African National Congress (ANC). Durban’s white city-council felt intimidated by this large community of politicized Africans and Indians on their doorstep. Subsequently in 1959 the area was declared a white zone under the Group Areas Act, which provided separation of people according to their race.

Families that had lived in Cato Manor for a number of years had to move out of their homes and away from their land. They were forced to the racially segregated areas of KwaMashu, Umlaziand Chatsworth. In that year (1959) demonstrations ensued and blocked forceful evictions three times.

Sunday, 24 January 1960
On 24 January 1960, Laurie Bloomfield, a photographer for the Daily News took a picture of rioting in Cato Manor, Durban which was immediately published around the world. The riots were sparked by the apartheid government’s attempt to forcibly remove black people from Cator Manor, an area inhabited by both Africans and Indians. Rene de Villiers, the acting editor of the Daily News chose not to publish Bloomfield’s photograph because he considered it to be “too emotionally explosive”.

Bloomfield continued to be part of the life of newspaper readers in Durban for at least 45 years. He worked as a photographer for the Daily News, before moving on to become pictures editor for the Daily News and Sunday Tribune. Bloomfield became the first person from outside Britain to be awarded the Encyclopaedia Britannica British Press Picture of the Year award in 1959. He died at the age of 74 from cancer.

Nine policemen are killed by an angry mob at Cato Manor in Durban

On 24 January 1960, nine policemen were killed by an angry mob at Cato Manor in Durban. The incident happened after a routine raid by police searching for illicit liquor. They were stoned and hacked to death. The police attempted to escape after they were ambushed, but were overwhelmed by the mob. Among those killed were four White policemen and five Blacks.

This is believed to be the highest number of police killed in a single incident. An emergency meeting was held in the House of Assembly where the Minister of Justice, Mr. Erasmus refused to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into the rioting. The incident happened a few weeks before the Sharpeville massacre, where 69 people were killed and scores left injured.



4 Comments on "TODAY IN HISTORY: Riots in Cato Manor – 24 January 1960"

  1. Pinky, thank you so much for your ever informative and thought provoking articles. This one reminded me of a thought that crossed my mind as I watched the protests about the Afrikaans only school Krugersdorp.

    • Pinky Khoabane | January 24, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Reply

      Thanks very much for your kind words Bheki. What thoughts crossed your mind? Ke rata ditaba (ngi thand’indaba). Hahaha. I dont watch or read much news, I saw a little bit on Twitter, I must acquaint myself with the story.

  2. Can you enable us to share also via WhatsApp

    • Pinky Khoabane | January 25, 2018 at 7:09 pm | Reply

      Hi Nobantu

      Why cant you share the link on WhatsApp. I’ve done it numerous times but if you dont want to attach the logo with it, which is really bad, just copy and paste.


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