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WATCH: Soweto's spirit in 1976 and Rhodes Must Fall in 2015

08 June, 12:05 PM

Next week marks four decades since thousands of Soweto youths marched over the apartheid government's racist policy on education on June 16 1976. Police responded shooting live rounds into the crowd. According to official reports at the time, 23 people were killed.

A later estimate, cited in a South African History article, reported the death toll was "at least 200" though its "hard to know how many people had been killed" because of efforts to cover up the figure. The uprising sparked demonstrations nationally.

During apartheid the State spent a disproportionate amount of taxpayer's money on white school education, while forcing black South Africans to study a limited - and, frankly, derogatory - syllabus described as Bantu education.

That racist policy was written into South African law in 1953 and in 1976 thousands of students would take to Soweto's streets to demonstrate over the medium of instruction, Afrikaans.

Ahead of June 16 this year, the head of alumni relations at the University of Cape Town (UCT) joined News24's Erin Bates to discuss the institution's programme marking the national holiday, Youth Day.

Lungile Jacobs likened the "spirit" of students in 1976 to that of students involved in the Rhodes Must Fall movement which swelled in numbers in 2015 and brought about the removal of a Cecil John Rhodes statue at UCT's upper campus.

Jacobs said there were alumni who were critical of the Rhodes Must Fall movement, but the institution had invited student leaders to participate in their Youth Day programme.

Last Friday more than 20 young people congregated at Bremner Building to protest the expulsion of students linked to Rhodes Must Fall. Police stood by as the demonstrated at the entrance. 

Watch above for more.

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