Verwoerd carpet replaced

2004-07-28 17:51

Cape Town - The carpet which for many years carried visible stains of the blood from the stabbing of South Africa's apartheid prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd, has been removed from the old house of assembly at parliament.

Verwoerd was stabbed to death in the assembly on the 6 September 1966 by a parliamentary service officer Dimitri Tsafendas, who escaped the death penalty on the grounds of insanity.

Tsafendas's motive for killing Verwoerd remains unclear.

Parliamentary official in charge of maintenance matters, Lionel Klaassen, confirmed that the old assembly carpet - in the traditional green that reflects the colours of the house of commons - had just been replaced.

He had not been aware that it was the "Verwoerd" carpet, but he said it was replaced "because it really looked shabby."

Former veteran liberal politician and the then Progressive Party's sole MP, Helen Suzman, on Wednesday said she wondered what "had been swept under it over the years."

Klaassen said the carpet had "been dumped".

Part of the ongoing maintenance of parliament was the removal of old carpets in the lobby outside the old House of Assembly chamber - which has been in constant use since Union in 1910 - and the restoration of the original marble floor.

The old assembly is often used for ANC caucus meetings as well as by parliamentary portfolio committees.