I recently visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, memorial dedicated to one of the first students to be shot dead during the 16 June 1976 Soweto Massacre. This was 13-year-old Hector Pieterson, who became the symbol of the Soweto Uprising. The picture of his dead body being carried away by another student, Mbuyisa Makhubo, while his sister Antoinette Sithole ran beside them in tears, was captured by news photographer Sam Nzima, and made it worldwide. When Hector was shot, he fell on the corner of Moema and Vilakazi Streets, he was picked up by Mbuyisa Makhubo who together with Hector’s sister, Antoinette (then 17 years old), ran towards Sam Nzima‘s car. They bundled him in, and the journalist Sophie Tema drove him to a nearby clinic where he was pronounced dead. Mbuyisa and Nzima were harassed by the police after the incident and both went into hiding.
Visiting the museum brought some odd images, because it shows the brutality of the apartheid government against children… Imagine that: an entire government unleashing dogs, police officers, and guns on children! 1500 heavily armed police patrolling the area overnight with automatic rifles, stun guns, and carbines; driving in armored vehicles with helicopters, while the South African army was ordered on standby… for repression on school children. Such barbary!
Well, I am glad there is an entire monument dedicated to the memory of Hector Pieterson, and above all to all those children who lost their lives on 16 June 1976, and who triggered the end of apartheid.