2 March 1961
The Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, Bishop Ambrose Reeves, resigned after having been deported from South Africa in September 1960 for his strong condemnation of the Government, particularly his criticism of the Sharpeville massacre and the subsequent state of emergency. Reeves' action was vigorously supported by the Archbishop of Cape Town, Joost de Blank. The Anglican Church's first major confrontation with the Government was between 1953 and 1955, regarding Bantu education. Various churches and missionaries had a long history of providing education for Africans. The Government intended to eradicate what it saw as subversive influence. Anglican schools included St Peter's in Johannesburg, where many Black leaders, among them Oliver Tambo, had been educated. Reeves denounced Bantu education, a system aimed at the intellectual crippling of an entire nation. He declared 'whatever the cost, we must make it plain to the Government, the members of our Church and all the African people that we disagree profoundly with a policy that we cannot be party to in any shape or form'. Rather than sell the schools to the Government, as the law demanded, he led his diocese in closing them down. Father Trevor Huddleston CR, (later Bishop of Masasi, then of Mauritius and also Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean), who also played a leading part in opposing the Government, said: 'I believe history will vindicate the Bishop's courageous and lonely stand ... the hardest thing, perhaps in the world, is to stand by the principle to the end ... It is much harder when one is caught up into the deep and bitter suffering of the people one loves most dearly.'