What happened next?

After being rounded up by the police, protesters were then released with no explanation. The court was told it was the decision of the attorney-general.

Charges were yesterday withdrawn in Cape Town Magistrate's Court against 29 of the "purple people'' arrested during a city centre protest days before the September 6 General Election.

The 29 were the first batch of more than 500 protesters who were sprayed with purple dye by police from a water cannon machine in Burg Street on Saturday morning, September 2.

No reasons were given for the withdrawal of the charges. The court was told it was the decision of the attorney-general.

The protesters were trying to march from Greenmarket Square to Parliament where they intended to deliver a petition.

Among those arrested were Dr Allan Boesak, Professor Charles Villa-Vincencio, four lawyers, nuns and priests.

Fifty-two journalists were also arrested.

- "Purple demo charges dropped", Cape Times, October 14, 1989

back to the The Purple Shall Govern memorial page

"Why are they taking over our city? This is our city."
The Purple Shall Govern
The Purple March
Picture: © Obed Zilwa, Trace Images


In this lesson plan, learners will be able to compare personal accounts with a more detached report of the same incident.

Lesson plan (1.96MB)
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The Purple March - September 2, 1989
Very few photographs of the Purple March survived the police crackdown on the media at the demonstration.
The Purple Shall Govern - A highlight in a low time
A selection of images of the Heritage Project’s memorial to the Purple Shall Govern march.
Audio of The Purple March by people who were there.
Listen to accounts of the Purple March by people who were there, including Philip Ivey, the young protester who turned the jet of purple dye on the police.
360° virtual tour of the memorial at the corner of Burg and Church Streets, Cape Town.
The day The Purple governed Cape Town
In September 1989, during a protest march in Cape Town, police turned a water-cannon filled with purple dye on the demonstrators in an attempt to make it easier to arrest them. But one brave man, Philip Ivey, hijacked one of the cannons and turned the lur