On 13 September 1960, during the trial of David Beresford Pratt, two psychiatrists gave evidence about his mental condition. The case was heard at the Supreme Court in Pretoria before Justice Rumpff, Judge-President of the Transvaal (now known as Gauteng).
The Magaliesberg farmer was accused of the attempted murder of the South African Prime Minister, Dr. H. F. Verwoerd at the Milner Park Showgrounds in Johannesburg. On 9 April 1960, Dr Verwoerd opened the Union Exposition to mark the anniversary of the Union of South Africa. After his opening address, he took his seat. Shortly afterwards, a man in his 50s, Pratt, walked up to him and fired two shots into his face.
The first psychiatrist to be called on the witness-stand said Pratt suffered “episodes” of severe depression and had “suicide impulses”. The second psychiatrist, Prof. L.A. Hurst, said Pratt had suffered from fits from the age of eight. According to Hurst, Pratt battled with both grand mal and petit mal seizures.
• Smith, M., 2010. ‘Opening Pandora’s Apartheid box-Part 21 The Assassination of Dr. Verwoerd’from Mike Smith’s Commentary, [online] Available at www.mspoliticalcommentary.blogspot.com ;[Accessed 14 July 2011]
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