Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum
The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, situated in Orlando West, Soweto, commemorate the role of the country’s students in the struggle against apartheid. The two commemorative sites are just a few blocks from where 12-year-old Hector Pieterson was shot in 1976.
On 16 June 1976, Soweto high school students took to the streets in a peaceful protest against the mandatory use of Afrikaans as a language of instruction in black secondary schools.
The students planned to meet at Orlando Stadium before marching to the regional offices of the Department of Bantu Education, where they intended raising their grievances with the authorities. They carried placards that read, “Away with Afrikaans”, “Amandla awethu” (“Power to the people”) and “Free Azania” (“Free South Africa”), and sang Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa), now the national anthem of South Africa.
On the way to the stadium, they were met by the police, who ordered them to end the march and disperse. A violent confrontation ensued, in which students threw stones and police fired shots. News of the events in Soweto soon spread, igniting uprisings around the country in which more than 550 people died. One of the first to die on June 16 was Pieterson.
Sam Nzima, a photographer for The World newspaper in Johannesburg, was in Soweto, covering the riots. His iconic image of Pieterson’s body being carried by high school student Mbuyisa Makhubo, with his sister, Antoinette Sithole, running alongside, is a graphic representation of repression under the apartheid regime.
In the early 1990s, the Hector Pieterson Memorial was erected on Khumalo Street, not far from where Pieterson was shot. On 16 June 2002, the Hector Pieterson Museum opened on Maseko Street. The museum, dedicated to preserving the memory of the 1976 uprising, is home to a collection of oral testimonies, pictures, audiovisual displays and historical documents relating to the Soweto uprisings. Together with the memorial, it commemorates those who died in the uprisings, and celebrates the students’ role in the struggle for freedom.
Today, 16 June is National Youth Day, a day on which the country remembers the youth of 1976.
Pensioners and students: R5
Monday to Saturday from 10h00 to 17h00
Sunday from 10h00 to 16h30
Closed on Christmas Day and the Day of Goodwill
Orlando West, Soweto