Police open fire to disperse a rioting crowd in Cato Manor, Durban


A woman and a child in Cato Manor 1959

Friday, 19 June 1959

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.

On 19 June 1959 rioters in Cato Manor were shot at by South African police. The incident occurred after African women attacked the beer halls in the area. The military was called in to disperse the rioting crowd and mass evictions followed; evictions were largely completed in August 1965.

• Boddy-Evans A. (n.d.), ‘This Day in African History: 19 June,’From: African History, [online], Available at:  www.africanhistory.about.com,[Accessed on: 17 May 2011]
• SAHO, "Cator Manor",From: SAHO, [online] Available at: www.sahistory.org.za, [Accessed on 19 June 2013]

Last updated : 25-May-2015

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Jun-2011