SA remembers Sharpeville

2010-03-21 07:57

Johannesburg - A half century ago, police officers massacred 69 black South Africans in the township of Sharpeville, where protesters had burned the passbooks that the white-led apartheid government required them to carry at all times.

But survivors of the massacre here are tired of telling their stories: They are wondering when the change they thought they were fighting for 50 years ago will come to Sharpeville.

Residents in recent weeks have set fire to tires in the streets to protest the lack of basic city services such as electricity and running water.

"Our lives started changing with Nelson Mandela's release, but people are still financially struggling and finance is still in white people's hands," said Abram Mofokeng, who was just 21 when officers opened fire on the protesters, shooting demonstrators including women and children as they ran away. Mofokeng still bears the scar where a bullet entered his back.

Demonstrations

Local residents say that Sunday's 50th anniversary of the massacre will be calm, despite concerns that commemoration activities could be interrupted with demonstrations.

The massacre, a turning point in the anti-apartheid struggle, drew world condemnation of the white-led government's ruthless treatment of South Africa's disenfranchised black majority and led the apartheid government to outlaw the African National Congress party. The ANC has governed South Africa since the country's first all-race elections in 1994.

But 16 years after the end of apartheid, many black South Africans feel that they have not benefited from the economic growth that has made many government and ANC officials rich. President Jacob Zuma, a popular figure among the poor, has promised to speed up delivery of houses, clinics, schools, running water and electricity as well as create jobs. But he also has acknowledged the difficulties of doing so amid the global recession.

In Sharpeville, the cemetery today is filled with rows of mismatched tombstones covered with unkempt grass and faded artificial flowers. A line of neat concrete slabs with black stone headstones marks the resting place of the massacre's victims.

Museum

The old police station where protesters gathered 50 years ago has become a community centre. Survivors of the massacre met here, along with other victims of apartheid, to share their stories and try to help each other heal. The counselling group has now moved to a nearby church, as the building is being renovated into a museum, part of Sharpeville's growing "Human Rights Precinct" with its memorial garden and shiny new exhibition centre.

The engraved stone tablets on a wall at the Garden of Remembrance are cracked in places. Some residents believe it is an attempt to draw attention to the issues that remain decades later.

"People's lives haven't changed. There are so many things we don't have ... a community hall, a sports ground ... People are unhappy," said Phillip Makhale, caretaker of the memorial site.

Busisiswe Mbuli, 18, lives with her mother and four siblings in an informal settlement on the edge of Sharpeville.

No School buses

"There are no school buses in Sharpeville," she said. "We have to walk very far to go to school, and it is difficult for the little ones."

The floor of the family shack she lives in is bare earth and corrugated iron walls reveal large holes where rain and bitter winter winds can come through.

"We cannot live in these shelters. They are right next to the tar road, and the gas heating inside the shelter is not safe. And then there are the toilets. They are the worst," she said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    sharpeville
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 18:04 PM
    Road name: Nelson Mandela Boulevard Outbound
    DELAYS approaching Hospital Bend
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 18:04 PM
    Road name: De Waal Drive Outbound
    DELAYS approaching Hospital Bend
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 3 Black 64GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 4G

Retina Display Finally the incredible Retina display technology from the iPhone...

From R7699.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.