HECTOR PIETERSON MEMORIAL

Apartheid, Museum | 0 comments

“Hector Pieterson Memorial . . . solemn insight into the events leading to the uprising in Soweto”

“. . . display of courage shown by children in the face of police might!”

“. . . a window into the recent dark history of South Africa and more specifically Soweto”

The view from this window in the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto looks over the line of fire of the police bullets!

The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum in Soweto was erected in the early 1990’s.
It is a memorial to Hector Pieterson, a 12 year old child!
He was believed to have been the second school pupil shot by police during the Soweto Student Uprising on 16th June, 1976 – but the first fatality.

The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum in Khumalo Street is a few hundred meters from the spot where Pieterson was gunned down.

Multiple information signs fixed to a pole displaying various sites of interest in the vicinity of the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto
INFORMATION CORRECT

July 2020

PLEASE NOTE : DUE TO COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS, DETAILS GIVEN HERE COULD BE INACCURATE.
PLEASE CHECK WITH HECTOR PIETERSON MUSEUM AT THE NUMBERS BELOW!

HECTOR PIETERSON MEMORIAL :
An open air memorial, with free access to all

HECTOR PIETERSON MUSEUM ENTRANCE FEES :
Adults : R30.00
Pensioners : R10.00
Students : R10.00 with Student Card
Children : R5.00
No foreign currency or travelers cheques accepted
(Prices updated in July each year)

WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY

HECTOR PIETERSON MUSEUM OPENING TIMES :
Monday – Saturday: 10h00 – 17h00 (10.00am – 5.00pm)
Sunday: 10h00 – 16h30 (10.00am – 4.30pm)
Closed on Good Friday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

HECTOR PIETERSON MUSEUM CONTACT :
Telephone : +27 (0)11 536-0611 / 0612 / 0613
Fax : +27 (0)11 536-1465

HECTOR PIETERSON MUSEUM ADDRESS :
8287 Khumalo Street
Orlando West
Soweto

HECTOR PIETERSON MUSEUM GPS Co-ordinates (hddd.dddddd)
S26.23538° E027.90786°

Poloko, a well known site guide at the Hector Pieterson Memorial, explains the 1976 student uprisings to his European guests

HECTOR PIETERSON MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

Alongside the Hector Pieterson Memorial is the Hector Pieterson Museum, which opened on 16th June 2002.

The Hector Pieterson Museum, resembles an interpretive centre.
It looks at the events that led up to, and includes, the 16th June 1976.
A ‘day-in-the-life-of-South-Africa’ that radically changed the manner in which South Africa was governed.
A day that also radically changed the course of history.

BANTU EDUCATION ACT

To understand the Soweto student uprising, we need to look back to the Bantu Education Act of 1953.
This Act of Parliament enforced the apartheid ideology of race segregation on all education levels.
This included universities.
White English and Afrikaans speaking school children also attended separate schools and universities.

The vast majority of rural children at the time were educated in church run Missionary schools.
Sadly nearly all of these schools were forced to close when the government stopped funding them.
Black Education was brought under the direct control of the apartheid state!
Ironically, a significant increase in funding was made available to the education of black children.
The syllabus was formulated by the state, and in line with the thinking of Hendrik Verwoerd, the Minister of Native Affairs.
He said “…there is no place for (the Bantu) in the European community, above the level of certain forms of labour . . . “

This line of grass outside the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto is symbolic of where the police bullets flew on the 16th June 1976.
The walkway past the Hector Pieterson Memorial towards the Museum entrance

AFRIKAANS MEDIAN DECREE

Between 1972 and 1976, the government attempted to improve the quality of labourers by improving their education.
They built forty new schools in Soweto which increased the number of students dramatically.
The Afrikaans Medium Decree was implemented in 1974.
The Decree made Afrikaans and English, the teaching medium for black children.
This only affected the children’s final six years (Std. 5 to Matric) at school.

English had always been accepted as a teaching medium, but there was huge resentment to Afrikaans.
Afrikaans was seen as the language of the “oppressor”.

SIGNS OF UNREST

On 30th April 1976, the first signs of resentment showed.
Students at Orlando West Junior School in Soweto called a strike, and refused to go to school.
This soon spread to other schools.
On 13th June 1976, a pupil at the Morris Isaacson High School – *Teboho ‘Tsietsi’ Mashinini, suggested a meeting to find a solution.
Mashinini was well-liked, intelligent, the captain of the debating team and president of the Methodist Youth Guild,
(*Mashinini died mysteriously in exile, but was subsequently exhumed and buried in the Avalon Cemetry in Soweto)

The result of this meeting was that an Action Committee, later known as the Soweto Students’ Representative Council, was formed.
It called for students to march on June 16th, from different parts of Soweto towards the Orlando West Junior School.
This march was to pledge their solidarity with those on strike.
The plan was to have the leaders address the students, and then end the protest.

Children use the Uprisings Sculpture called "Student Confrontation" by Stone Mabubda, on the Hector Pieterson Trail at the corner of Moema and Vilakazi Streets, as a jungle gym!

WEDNESDAY 16th JUNE 1976

A more accurate underlying cause of the protests was the inferior Bantu Education, although the whole apartheid system would have been the true cause of any protest.

On Wednesday 16th June 1976, pupils were due to start writing exams.
Despite police roadblocks, an estimated 15,000 students took to the streets in different parts of Soweto.

One group of children confronted the police on the corner of Moema and Vilakazi Streets, outside the Orlando West High School.
The police weren’t prepared, and were ill equipped to control the marchers.
Rocks were thrown at the police who responded by using teargas and firing a number of warning shots.
Before the children could disperse, the police opened fire.

Sam Nzima, a photographer for The World* newspaper in Johannesburg, was taking photographs of the goings-on.
(* The World newspaper was banned and shut down by Minister of Justice Jimmy Kruger in 1977).
He took the iconic photo of *Mbuyisa Makhubo, an 18 year old fellow student, carrying Pieterson body.
Pieterson’s traumatized sister, then 17 year old Antoinette, was running alongside.
Makhubo ran to Sam Nzima’s car, and Pieterson was driven to the Phefeni Clinic, where he was pronounced dead.
(*Makhubo was harassed by the police after the incident and went into exile in Botswana.
From there he went to Nigeria, where he was last heard from, before vanishing without a trace)

Tourists at the Hector Pieterson Memorial, listening to a site guide, look out over Soweto and the Orlando Towers in the distance.
A memorial erected on the spot where  Hector Pieterson was shot, but now thought to mark the wrong place!

NATIONAL YOUTH DAY

16th June 1976 is commemorated as a public holiday – National Youth Day, to honour all young people.

Nelson Mandela, when released from prison in 1990, acknowledged the debt owed by all black South Africans to the students who gave their lives in Soweto.

A temporary Hector Pieterson Museum, consisting of cargo containers, was put up on the site in the 1990’s.

HASTINGS NDLOVO

Hastings Ndlovo, 3 years older than Pieterson, was believed to have been the first child shot by police – in a separate incident 600 meters away, on the old Orlando West bridge on Kumalo Main Road.
He died of his injuries in the Baragwanath Hospital (since renamed the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital) later in the day.

The photo below shows the neglected Hastings Ndlovu outdoor memorial with his statue.
The site has since become overgrown and abandoned, and the statue removed for safe keeping after being damaged and desicrated!

The abandoned and neglected Hastings Ndlovu outdoor memorial marks the site where the 15 year old was the first child shot by police on the 16th June 1976.

Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum
8287 Khumalo Street
Orlando West
Soweto

Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum does not have a website


Page originally created : 19th March 2012.

Whilst every attempt will be made to keep the information on this website relevant and up to date, we accept no responsibility for consequences arising from errors or omissions.
Return from ‘The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum’
to www.whyjoburg.com Home page