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As the police emerged to clean up the carnage, one officer grew sick at the sight and vomited. But the police commander said coolly: "My car was struck by a stone. If they do these things, they must learn their lesson the hard way." The dead estimates range from 72 to 90were carted off to makeshift morgues; more than 200 wounded overflowed the native hospital. And so much plasma was needed that African blood gave out, and the wounded got transfusions from reserve white stocks.
All South Africa was stunned by the sudden bloodshed that had always been implicit in Verwoerd's unrelenting policies. The English-language Johannesburg Star assailed the government's "pathetic faith in the power of machine guns to settle basic human problems," and the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg appealed "to all those in South Africa who have any human feelings" to stop the police tactics. More than 500 white students at the University of Natal, carrying banners reading HITLER 1939, VERWOERD 1960, assembled on campus to lower the British and South African flags to half-mast.
But in the rest of Africa and throughout the world, the reaction was even angrier. Liberia's President William Tubman called the Sharpeville massacre "the vilest, most reckless and unconscionable action in history." In London, a crowd shouting "Murder!" had to be dispersed from South Africa House under an ordinance that prohibits any public gathering within a mile of Parliament when the House of Commons is in session. In Vatican City, L'Osservatore Romano demanded to know why South Africa's police "did not employ such modern means as water hoses and tear gas, which are in use in all civilized countries,"-instead of mowing down men, women and children indiscriminately. Nowhere in the world did a single government side with South Africa.
Everywhere Deplored. The U.S. State Department, freely intruding in another nation's internal affairs contrary to usual practice, "deplored" the violence and "regretted" the tragic loss of life. U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold said that the U.N. was entitled to discuss the race riots, even if it could not intervene over them, and added: "In humanitarian terms, you need not have any doubt about my feelings." On petition of 29 Afro-Asian U.N. members, U.S. Delegate Henry Cabot Lodge, as the current president of the Security Council, set a meeting for this week.
Even South Africa's rabidly nationalistic Afrikaans press was having second thoughts. The day before the riots, the Johannesburg Vaderland called for a "simpler and less hurtful pass system." The influential Cape Town Die Burger urged moderation on Prime Minister Verwoerd. But Verwoerd obstinately said that "nothing would be done" to abolish the pass laws, and belatedly discovered that the demonstrators at Sharpeville had "shot first," even though no one found arms on the Africans.