Remembering – The June 16 – 1976 Soweto Youth Uprising

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345: Peter Magubane, Soweto Uprising, June 16, 1976.

Remembering – Soweto Uprising, June 16, 1976 – Peter Magubane.

From, images by bab Peter Magubane, videos by OGOLOTSE NTWAAGAE and Take a stand, Student Activism

The June 16 1976 Uprising that began in Soweto and spread countrywide profoundly changed the socio-political landscape in South Africa. Events that triggered the uprising can be traced back to policies of the Apartheid government that resulted in the introduction of the Bantu Education Act in 1953. The rise of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) and the formation of South African Students Organisation (SASO) raised the political consciousness of many students while others joined the wave of anti-Apartheid sentiment within the student community. When the language of Afrikaans alongside English was made compulsory as a medium of instruction in schools in 1974, black students began mobilizing themselves. On 16 June 1976 between 3000 and 10 000 students mobilized by the Soweto Students Representative Council’s Action Committee supported by the BCM marched peacefully to demonstrate and protest against the government’s directive. The march was meant to culminate at a rally in Orlando Stadium.

On their pathway they were met by heavily armed police who fired teargas and later live ammunition on demonstrating students. This resulted in a widespread revolt that turned into an uprising against the government. While the uprising began in Soweto, it spread across the country and carried on until the following year.

The aftermath of the events of June 16 1976 had dire consequences for the Apartheid government. Images of the police firing on peacefully demonstrating students led an international revulsion against South Africa as its brutality was exposed. Meanwhile, the weakened and exiled liberation movements received new recruits fleeing political persecution at home giving impetus to the struggle against Apartheid.

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Oppression through inferior education and the 1976 Soweto uprising

An increase in secondary school attendance had a significant effect on youth culture. Previously, many young people spent the time between leaving primary school and obtaining a job (if they were lucky) in gangs, which generally lacked any political consciousness. But now secondary school students were developing their own. In 1969 the black South African Student Organization (SASO) was formed.

Though Bantu Education was designed to deprive Africans and isolate them from ‘subversive’ ideas, indignation at being given such ‘gutter’ education became a major focus for resistance, most notably in the 1976 Soweto uprising. In the wake of this effective and clear protest, some reform attempts were made, but it was a case of too little, too late. Major disparities in racially separate education provision continued into the 1990s.

When high-school students in Soweto started protesting for better education on 16 June 1976, police responded with teargas and live bullets. It is commemorated today by a South African national holiday, Youth day, which honors all the young people who lost their lives in the struggle against Apartheid and Bantu Education.

In the 1980s very little education at all took place in the Bantu Education system, which was the target of almost continuous protest. The legacy of decades of inferior education (underdevelopment, poor self-image, economic depression, unemployment, crime, etc.) has lasted far beyond the introduction of a single educational system in 1994 with the first democratic elections, and the creation of the Government of National Unity.

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afrikaans must be abolished

June 16 Soweto Youth Uprising

The introduction of Afrikaans alongside English as a medium of instruction is considered the immediate cause of the Soweto uprising, but there are a various factors behind the 1976 student unrest. These factors can certainly be traced back to the Ban tu Education Act introduced by the Apartheid government in 1953. The Act introduced a new Department of Bantu Education which was integrated into the Department of Native Affairs under Dr He ndrik F. Verwoerd. The provisions of the Bantu Education Act and some policy statements made by the Bantu Education Department were directly responsible for the uprisings. Dr Verwoerd, who engineered the Bantu Education Act, announced that “Natives (blacks) must be taught from an early age that equality with Europeans (whites) is not for them”.

Although the Bantu Education Act made it easier for more children to attend school in Soweto than it had been with the missionary system of education, there was a great deal of discontent about the lack of facilities. Throughout the country there was a dire shortage of classrooms for Black children. There was also a lack of teachers and many of the teachers were under-qualified. Nationally, pupil-to-teacher ratios went up from 46:1 in 1955 to 58:1 in 1967. Because of the lack of proper classrooms and the crippling government homeland policy, students were forced to return to “their homelands” to attend the newly built schools there.

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The government was spending far more on White education than on Black education; R644 was spent annually for each White student, while only R42 was budgeted for a Black school child. In 1976 there were 257 505 pupils enrolled in Form 1 at high schools which had a capacity for only 38 000 students.

To alleviate the situation pupils who had passed their standard six examinations were requested to repeat the standard. This was met with great resentment by the students and their parents. Although the situation did not lead to an immediate revolt, it certainly served to build up tensions prior to the 1976 student uprising.

In 1975 the government was phasing out Standard Eight (or Junior Certificate (JC)). By then, Standard Six had already been phased out and many students graduating from Primary Schools were being sent to the emerging Junior Secondary Schools. It was in these Junior Secondary schools that the 50-50 language rule was to be applied.

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The issue that caused massive discontent and made resentment boil over into the 1976 uprising was a decree issued by the Bantu Education Department. Deputy Minister Andries Treur nicht sent instructions to the School Boards, inspectors and principals to the effect that Afrikaans should be put on an equal basis with English as a medium of instruction in all schools. These instructions drew immediate negative reaction from various quarters of the community. The first body to react was the Tswana School Boards, which comprised school boards from Meadowlands, Dobsonville and other areas in Soweto. The minutes of the meeting of the Tswana School Board held on 20 January 1976 read:

“The circuit inspector told the board that the Secretary for Bantu Education has stated that all direct taxes paid by the Black population of South Africa are being sent to the various homelands for educational purposes there.

“In urban areas the education of a Black child is being paid for by the White population, that is English and Afrikaans speaking groups. Therefore the Secretary for Bantu Education has the responsibility of satisfying the English and Afrikaans-speaking people. Consequently, as the only way of satisfying both groups, the medium of instruction in all schools shall be on a 50-50 basis…. In future, if schools teach through a medium not prescribed by the department for a particular subject, examination question papers will only be set in the medium with no option of the other language”.

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Teachers also raised objections to the government announcement. Some Black teachers, who were members of the African Teachers Association of South Africa, complained that they were not fluent in Afrikaans. The students initially organised themselves into local cultural groups and youth clubs. At school there was a significant number of branches of the Students Christian Movements (SCMs), which were largely apolitical in character. SASM penetrated these formations between 1974 and 1976. And when conditions ripened for the outbreak of protests, SASM formed an Action Committee on 13 June 1976, which was later renamed the Soweto Student Representative Council (SSRC). They were conscientised and influenced by national organisations such as the Black Peoples’ Convention (BPC), South African Student Organisations (SASO)and by the Black Consciousness philosophy. They rejected the idea of being taught in the language of the oppressor.

The uprising took place at a time when liberation movements were banned throughout the country and South Africa was in the grip of apartheid. The protest started off peacefully in So wetobut it turned violent when the police opened fire on unarmed students. By the third day the unrest had gained momentum and spread to townships around Soweto and other parts of the country. The class of 1976 bravely took to the streets and overturned the whole notion that workers were the only essential force to challenge the apartheid regime. Indeed, they succeeded where their parents had failed. They not only occupied city centres but also closed schools and alcohol outlets.

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June 16 Soweto Youth Uprising casualties

Name Place of death Age Date Cause of death
Adams, Sandra Joyce Kew Town 15 16.9.76 Shot in front of head (ricochet) on 3rd floor balcony
Adriaanse, Noel John Hanover Park 13 2.9.76 Shot through left side of head
Africa, Pieter Montagu 24 11.9.76 White Supply. Details of death under investigation
Albern, Bazil Elsie’s River 16 9.9.76 Shot to side of abdomen
Allie, Abduraghman Ravensmead 7.9.76 Shot in chest from front
Appolis, Christopher Menenberg 16 10.9.76 Shot in head from front, Jordaan Road
August, Victor L. Gugulethu 31.12.76 Reported missing during December disturbances
Bakubaku, Golden Nyanga 26.12.76 Killed by migrant workers
Balnardo, Gary Sandy Grassy Park 19 16.9.76 Shot through buttock and chest from front, at Head Road.
Barnes, Isaac Bonteheuwel 16 25.8.76 Shot in chest from front
Barnes, Sydney Gugulethu 32 26.8.76 Beaten to death by group of migrant workers
Barron, James Soweto 26.12.76 Shot through the head
Bezuidenhout, Isaac Mosselbay 14.9.76 Burried
Bota, Michael Nyanga East 26.12.76 Shot dead
Botha, William Nyanga 26.12.76 Killed by migrant workers
Botha, Neville, J.G. Retreat 20 8.9.76 Shot in stomach from front
Buba, Lawrence Philippi 14 9.9.76 Shot in chest from front
Buthelezi, Leonard Soweto 39 4.8.76 Gunshot wounds to the head and body
Buthelezi, Joyce 16 26.12.76 Shotgun wounds to chest and head when police fired on students at Sekano-Ntoane High School
Carolissen, Gasant Hanover Park 21 2.9.76 Shot in chest from front
Carolissen, Ronald C. Stellenbosch 22 9.9.76
Cezala, Bonekeli 31.12.76 Reported missing in December disturbances
Cloete, Joseph E. 30 9.9.76 Shot in cheek and abdomen from front and in back and neck from behind
Cook,, Faried Manenberg 16 9.9.76 Shot in neck from behind
Cooke, Rodney Bontehewel 24 25.8.76 Shot in chest from front
Dajee, Bhanudey Retreat 37 8.9.76 Shot in lungs and heart
Daniels, Patrick J Elsises’ River 24 9.9.76 Shot in back of head
Daniels, John Retreat 35 8.9.76 Shot in left side of chest
Daniels, Kammips Cleetesville 33 7.9.76 Shot dead
Davids, John Menenberg 16 9.9.76 Shot in head from behind, in Thomas Avenue
Davids, Mogamat Rushaad Athlone 24 27.12.76 Shot in back
Dlanza, Dennis Bantu Langa 22 27.12.76 Shot in Langa
Dondi, T.S.B. Gugulethu 16.9.76 Shot
Domtsa, Mellville N. 46 26.12.76 Shot dead
Dube, Yvonne Paarl East 45 9.9.76 Inquest revealed that she died after seven pellets from a shotgun had been fired at her. The magistrate found that no body could be held responsible for her death. She had been among a group of people throwing stones.
Dunga, Gidliza Epton 1.12.76 Shot dead
Dithipe, Elifas Kagiso 31.12.76
Dladla, Baby Soweto 28 14.6.76 Shot through the head
Dlamini, Emmanuel Soweto 26.12.76
Edelstein, Melville Leonard Soweto 16.6.76
Eesterhuizen, Johannes Hendrik Soweto 26.12.76
Elliot, Charles Manenberg 16 9.9.76 Shot in abdomen from font
Essop, Dawood Bonteheuwel 30 25.8.76 Shot in back
Ferguson, Herry A.J.D Hanover Park 30 2.9.76 Shot through lungs from behind
Finch, Alfred A. Retreat 15 9.9.76 Shot in right side of chest from front
Fish, Edward Ravensmead 25 7.9.76 Shot in right side of chest and abdomen from front
Fisher, Ivy Langa 32 12.8.76 Shot in right side of head
Follie, Enoch Soweto 18.6.76 Shot above the heart
Garnie, R.W. Alexandra 26.12.76 Shot in right shoulder
Gasnola, Suleman Lansdowene 17 9.9.76 Shot in chest from side
Gcwabe, Abel Daniso Gugulethu 1.11.76 Shot dead
Genu, Fetras Gugulethu 18 12.8.76 Shot in chest from front
Gincana, Atwell 18.6.76
Gishi, Jackson 67 27.12.76 Under investigation
Gobile, Christopher Gugulethu 26 21.8.76 Shot in abdomen from front
Godwe, Jeffery Soweto 18.6.76
Gonxeka, Sidney Z. Langa 18 28.12.76 Shot dead
Gule, Petrus  Soweto  15 26.8.76  Gunshot wound of head
Gumata, Jumba Soweto 26 26.12.76
Gushamn, Mhlangabezi E Gugulethu 28 11.8.76 Shot in head from front
Guwa, Nelson Gugulethu 48 26.12.76 Axed to death by migrant workers
Harris, Ronald Silvertown 25 16.9.76 Shot in chest from front
Hlakula, Stanley Mlamli Gugulethu 26 27.12.76 Shot dead
Hoogaardt, Spasiena Hugenot, Paarl 15 9.9.76 Shotss
Hlatshwayo, Joyce Soweto 26.12.76
Hlongwane, Johannes Soweto 43 12.9.76
Hlongwane, Petros Soweto 29 25.7.76
Hlokwane, N.C. Alexandra 26.12.76 Crushed by bus
Isaacs, Colin Retreat 31 9.9.76 Shot in neck from behind
Isaacs, John Manenberg 15 9.9.76 Shot
Jacobs, Shaheed Distirct Six 15 3.9.76 Shot through side of neck and chest at corner of Sackville and Vincent Streets, Cape Town.
Jacobs, Mervyn Elsies’ River 16 8.9.76 Shot in back
Jacobs, John Manenberg 15 9.9.76 Shot in arm and chest from left at Green Dolphin Bottle Store, Jordaan Road.
Jelems, Government Nyanga 27.12.76 Shot and axed to death
Johnson, Erol Manenberg 4.2.77 Shot in stomach
Jonas, Lawrence Nyanga 26 26.12.76 Killed by migrant workers
Kahn, Nazeem Manenberg 16.9.76 Shot in chest and abdomen from an angle
Kalakahla, Samson Fantu Soweto 26 25.8.76
Kalane, George Soweto 15 26.12.76
Kamesi, Andries Gugulethu 25 11.8.76 Shot in head from front
Kamfer, Christiaan B. Ravensmead 16 7.9.76 Shot in chest from front
Khalipha, Richard Nyanga 4months 15.1.77 Cause of death unknown
Khan, Naziem Manenberg 15 16.9.76
Kleinschmidt, Amgeline Elsis’ River 31 8.9.76 Shot in back of head
Komani, Brian Nyanga 27 26.12.76 Shot dead
Kumalo, Joseph Gugulethu 22 3.9.76 Shot in abdomen from front
Kwisomba, Harry Gugulethu 30 26.12,76 Shot to death
Kambule, Eliakim Sutu 50 Multiple injuries to body
Kekane, Andries Mamelodi 31,12,76
Kekane, Shadrack Soweto 26.12.76
Keokame, Marshall Soweto 16.6.76
Kgampe, Philemon Soweto 26.12.76
Kgapule, Edward Soweto 26.12.77
Kgate, Sydney 46 Shot dead
Kgoadi, Gustov Soweto 26.12.76
Kgokong, Linda Daveyton 31.12.76
Kgongoana, Ariel “Pro” Soweto 16.6.76
Kgupisi, Herbert Soweto 26.12.76
Khaje, Sydney Kabelo Soweto 47 26.12.76 Shot
Khambule, Godfrey Soweto 12 24.8.76 Gun shot wounds when police fired at crowd
Khoza, John Mamelodi 31.12.76
Khumalo, Columbus Soweto 26.12.76
Khumalo, Daniel Soweto 24 19.6.76 Multiple injuries to body.
Khumalo, Nehemiah M. Soweto 24 21.6.76 Stabbed above the heart.
Koalana, Doctor Soweto 26.12.76
Koalana, Willy Soweto 26.12.76
Kobedi, Kabelo Soweto 25.6.76
Koloane, David D. 16 24.8/76 Gunshot wound. Police alleged at inquest that he attacked a policeman with an axe
Kolonga, David Mamelodi 31.12.76
Kubeka, Johannes Soweto 24 16.7.76 Gunshot wounds to left leg. Died of haemorrhage
Khubeka, Hilton Soweto 19 17.6.76
Khubeka, Robert Soweto 24 26.12.76 Stab wounds
Khubeka, Zabulon Soweto 47 22.8.76
Kumalo, Zolile Soweto
Kunene, Edward Soweto 42 18.6.76 Stabbed twice on left side of chest
Kunene, Norman 27 17.6.76 Shot
Kwadi, Gunston Soweto 32 26.8.76 Gunshot wounds to head
Kwinana, Gregory Soweto 38 17.6.76
Laaka, Erick 58 17.9.76 Multiple wounds to stomach
Lebelo, Abiel Soweto 20 4.8.76 Shot and teargassed
Leburu, John Soweto 23 18.6.76
Leburu, Nathaniel 39 Bullet through spinal cord
Ledwaba, Jacob Soweto 26.12.76
Lee, Ralph, R Retreat 34 8.9.76 Shot in neck from front
Leepo, Junior 19.1.77 Burnt to death by petrol bomb
Lengwali, Patrick Soweto 11.1.77
Lengwathi, Patrick Themba Soweto 16.6.76 Shot
Lepota, David 26.12.76
Leroke, Hermina  Soweto  26.12.77
Lesele, Tutu John Langa 45 11.8.76 Shot in calf, buttock and chest from behind
Lesejane, Ashely  Moepong 31.12.76
Lesumi, J. Soweto 26.12.76 Assaulted by hostel inmates with choppers
Letlaku, J. Soweto 26.12.76
Letleka, Dominic Soweto 4 18.6.76
Letsholo, Peter Soweto 21 25.8.76
Leukes, Owen Bonteheumwel 17 Reported in official police list as a casualty not resulting from police action.
Limba, Cyril Ivan Manenberg 18 9.9.76 Shot in back and small of back at Vistula Tavern Bottle Store
Linda, Petrus King Soweto 26 26.12.76 Killed by gunshot.
Lloyd, Jan Soweto 26.12.76
Louw, Samuel Gugulethu 42 11.8.76 Shot in chest from front
Lucas, Cornelius Mosselbay Died prior to September 15
Lutiya, Wiseman Gugulethu 22 11.8.76 Shot in abdominal cavity
Luphindo, Inspector Soweto 24 2.7.76
Lupiwane, Goowill Soweto 35 18.2.77 Fractured skull
Luvatsha, Reginald Soweto 26.12.76
Luvatsha, Thembo Soweto 26.6.76 Bullet wounds below stomach
Mabandla, Selby Soweto 58 26.12.76 Chopped on head when hostel dwellers attacked Soweto Residents
Mabaso, Erick Soweto 18 26.12.76
Mabaso, Mathabeni Soweto 26.12.76
Mabaso, N Soweto 26.12.76 Shot
Mabena, Peter Soweto 26.12.76 Stabbed
Mabitsa, Steven 58 19.6.76 Stab wounds in chest – died during riots
Maboya, Bennet Soweto 26.12.76
Maboya, Bernard Soweto 26.12.76
Mabuku, Glagys Soweto 26.12.76
Mabunda, Sam Boy Mamelodi 31.12.76
Mabuya, B. Soweto 26.12.76 Bullet wound to mouth and shoulder
Mabuza, Patrick Soweto 24 17.9.76
Mabuza, Shadrack Mamelodi 31.12.76
Mabyka, Gladys Soweto 26 18.2.77
Madibo, P. Alexandra 26.12.76 Shot in left shoulder
Madikane, Daniel Mamelodi 31.12.76
Madzivhandla, Patrick Soweto 26.12.76
Madupe, Johannes Disappeared during June 1976 in Ga-Rankuwa. Police have no further records
Maepa, Simon Soweto 26.12.76
Maga, Dane Alexandra 26.12.76 Bullet wound
Magadani, Florence Soweto 26.12.76
Magagula, Petrus 49 Shot dead
Mahapo, Godfrey Soweto 26.12.76
Mahasha, Daniel Soweto 26.12.77
Mahlaba, David Soweto 24 26.12.78
Mahlambi, Pauline Soweto 26.12.79 Bullet wound on thigh.
Mahlaza, Raymond Soweto 24 17.6.76 Shot in hip
Mahlinza, Maxwell Soweto 24 17.6.76 Shot in hip
Mahopo, G. Soweto 26.12.76 Shot
Mahurawe, Titus 13 Shot in the back.
Maichetha, Walter Soweto 15 26.12.76
Mailangwe, Richard Soweto 26.12.76
Maipa, Simon Soweto 26.12.77
Majambela, Archibald Gugulethu 23 11.8.76 Shot in chest from front
Majamba, Douglas Philippi 20 12.8.76 Shot in chest from front
Majeka, Rebecca Langa 37 11.8.76 Shot through neck from behind
Majoko, Daniel Soweto 26.12.78
Majola, Nongoentu Soweto 28 8.8.76 Shot dead by Railway police
Majola, Boy Soweto 26.12.76
Majola, Titus Soweto 15 19.7.76
Makaluza, Ellen Gugulethu 26.12.76 Axed to death by migrant workers
Makundayi, Monica Gugulethu 5 26.12.76 Shot dead
Makate, Washington Soweto 26 25.8.76 Shotgun pellet wounds to both legs. Died of haemorrhage.
Makari, Abraham Soweto 43 18.2.77 Stab wound
Makate, Washington T Soweto 26.12.76 Shot through the neck.
Makgabane, Peter Soweto 26.12.76
Makgetle, David Soweto 26.12.76
Makhabane, Petrus K. Soweto 26.12.76 Shot in chest and stomach
Makhari, Abraham Soweto 33 26.12.76
Makhetha, Percy 15 26.12.76. Bullet wound
Makhotla, Makhosi Soweto 41 7.9.76 Gunshot wounds to abdomen
Malindisa, George Soweto 23 31.7.76
Mamogobo, Ezra 49 24.7.76 Head and body injuries
Maneli, Gladwell, V. Gugulethu 2.1.77 Beaten to death by group of migrant workers
Manale. Herbert Soweto 26.12.76
Manganyi, Victor Soweto 26.12.76
Manhayi, Arthur Soweto 24 24.8.76 Chopped to death, allegedly by hostel dwellers
Mankayi, Benjamin Soweto 39 23.8.76 Stabbed during attack by hostel dweller.
Mankayi, Gideon Soweto 39 24.8.76 Cut across the head with sharp instrument
Maphalala, S. Soweto 27.8.76 Shot
March, Phillip Soweto 16 20.6.76 Shot thrice through the head.
Marney, Alfred Retreat 18 16.9.76 Shot in small of back
Maseko, Sara Soweto 46 17.6.76 Fatal gunshot wounds to thighs. Died of haemorrhage
Maseko, Sylvester Vusi Soweto 21 20.9.76 Gunshot wounds to the head.
Masiba, Nkululo, S. Gugulethu 22 11.8.76 Shot in right shoulder from behind
Masimango, Bernard Soweto 26.12.76
Masuku, Themba Soweto 26.12.76
Masenya, Grace Soweto 26.12.76
Mashaba, Johannes Soweto 22 26.12.76 Strangulation
Mashiane, F.B. Soweto 26.8.76 Shot
Mashinini, Morris Soweto 26.12.76
Mashombo, Ben Soweto 26.12.76
Masilela, Aby Soweto 24 26.12.76 Multiple injuries
Masilo, Boas Sydney Soweto 26.12.76
Masilo, E.N. Soweto 24.8.76 Chopped by hostel residents
Masinga, David Soweto 19 16.6.76
Masuiga, David Soweto 19 16.6.76
Mathabathe, Aaron Mamelodi 31.12.76
Mathagane, Elifas Mamelodi 31.12.76
Mathebula, Jacob Sydney Soweto 22 4.7.76 Shot through leg
Mathebula, Josiah Soweto 54 26.12.76 Spinal cord injury
Matheson, Reginald C. Retreat 18 8.9.76 Shot in back, neck and head from behind
Mathobela, Johan Soweto 19 12.8.76
Matimela, Lazarus Mamelodi 31.12.76
Matlhaku, Samuel Soweto 66 26.6.76
Matome, Mackenzie Soweto 26.12.76
Matsabu, Abel Jan Soweto 26.12.76
Matsapola, E. Soweto 26.12.76 Two bullet wounds
Matsepe, Jeffrey Soweto 26.12.76
Matsunyane, James Sello Soweto 26.12.76 Shot in the back, the bullet went through the body
Mavimbela, Sipho Soweto 18.6.76 Shot through chest
Matyeni, Wellington K. 21 31.12.76 Reported missing in December 1976
May, Nicholas Retreat 19 8.9.76 Shot in back
Mazomba, Boy Charles 18 14.9.76 Gunshot wounds while allegedly sabotaging a railway line before he fled from constable who shot him.
Mazwai, Zizwe Gugulethu 18 8.9.76 Went to visit friend at 6pm. 8.9.76. His was found in the mortuary the next day.
Mbali, James 15 1.12.76 Shot dead
Mbatha, Ames Mamelodi 31.12.76
Mbatha, Dumisani Isaac 16 25.9.76
Mbatha, Sipho Clement Soweto 22 24.10.76 Multiple shotgun wounds in chest and abdomen.
Mbebe, Frank Soweto 26.12.76
Mbeki, Princess Soweto 17.9.76 Police fired on crowed of students at Sekano-Ntoane High School. Gunshot wounds.
Mbele, Aaron Soweto 26.12.76 Struck by bullet.
Mbele, Simon Soweto 24.10.76 Died of bullet wounds in the head and chest.
Mbengwane, Stanley Soweto 28 26.12.76
McDeci, Richard Manenberg 35 9.9.76 Shot in back
Mchunu, Moses Soweto 12 26.12.76 Gross mutilation of the head.
Mda, John Soweto 32 17.6.76 Gunshot wounds to chest and lungs
Mdayi, Dambile, S. Langa 24 11.8.76 Shot in chest from front
Menwe, Peter Soweto 26.12.76
Mevana, David Soweto 26.12.76 Shot through sternum
Meyer, Karel Sheerwood Park 45 9.9.76 Shot in right buttock from behind
Mhlanga, Samuel Soweto 17 26.12.76 Fractured skull
Mhlongo, Felix Alexandra 18.6.76 Shot – wounded in lung, heart and spinal column
Miller, Lord Soweto 26.12.76
Mithi, Lily Soweto 26.12.76
Mjamba, Douglas Gugulethu 20 12.8.76
Mkafulo, Cajulo Langa 36 11.8.76 Shot through back and heart from behind
Mkhize, Tusokwakhe Soweto 26.12.76
Mkhotlana, Elias Moletsane 43 26.12.76
Mkhwanazi, Israel Soweto 26 26.12.76 Stab wounds
Mkhwanazi, Lindiwe Soweto 26.12.76
Mkwanzi, L Soweto 26.12.76 Shot
Mlangeni, Lea Soweto 26.12.76
Mlangeni, Mbopha Soweto 18 14.9.76
Mlilo, Amos 30 24.8.76 Police told inquest court that he could have been a victim of hostel dwellers in Soweto.
Mlotshwa, Derrick 23 14.9.76 Multiple bullet wounds to chest
Mmutle, Dennis Soweto 26.12.76 Bullet wound through the side
Mncedisi, Mazwi Gugulethu 16 9.9.76 Left for soccer practice on 9.9.76. His body was found in the mortuary the next day.
Mncube, Gideon Soweto 20 15.7.76
Mnculwane, Mantombi Soweto 26.12.76 Shot
Mngemane, Morris Soweto 18 20.6.76 Five bullet wounds.
Mngoma, Tenson Soweto 26.12.76
Mngomezulu, Simon Soweto 29 18.6.76
Moatlhudi, Agnes Soweto 10 26.12.76
Moatse, Titus Soweto 15 19.7.76
Modisane, Samuel Oupa Soweto 19 24.8.76 Bullet wound through the heart. Was found dead in the street not far from his house. He was hit by some pellets when the crowd dispersed.
Modise, Peter 60 Head injuries
Modise, J. Dobsonville 26.12.76 Shot in the stomach
Modukanele, Isaac Rasebata Alexandra 26.12.76 Shot
Modukanele, Jacob Soweto 26.12.76
Moerane, Jacob Soweto 23 19.6.76 Burnt under vehicle
Mofokeng, R.A. Soweto 17.6.76 Stabbed with bottle
Mogapi, Samuel 4 5.3.77 Shot in head
Mogapi, Stephen 26.12.76
Mogola, Johannes Soweto 26.12.76
Mogotsi, Nchimane Philemon Soweto 26.12.76
Mofokeng, Raymond Soweto 14 25.8.76 Gunshot wounds to chest and neck
Mohamme, J. Soweto 24.8.76 Stabbed in the stomach, face sliced off
Mohapi, Steven Soweto 58 18.2.77 Head injuries
Mohapi, Jacob 16 23.9.76 Died of bullet wounds to lung
Mohlabane, Mphele Soweto 26.12.76
Mohwaduba, Simon Mabopane 31.12.76
Mokgatle, Mohatle Moses Soweto 47 26.12.76 Stab wounds
Mokobi, Cornelius 24 30.8.76 Found dead with shotgun wound in chest
Mokoena, Moremane 14 Two bullet wounds to chest and leg
Mokoena, Amos Soweto 26.12.76
Mokoena, Moses Soweto 26.12.76
Mokoena, Vincent Soweto 26.12.76
Molapo. Lobian Soweto 26,12,76
Molefe, John Soweto 19 25.6.76
Molefe, Peter Soweto 21 26.12.76
Moleko. Hendrick Soweto 18.6.76 Shot in the stomach
Moloi, Joseph Karabo 16 29.9.76 Bullet through stomach
Moloi, Philadelphia 17 Shot dead
Mononyane, Joseph S. Soweto 18.6.76
Montjane, Elijah Soweto 26.12.76
Mooketsi, Johan Soweto 26.12.76
Morolong, Bruce 31.12.76 Reported missing after December disturbances
Morolong, J.P. Soweto 23.9.76 Stabbed and beaten to death
Moses, Phillip Ravensmead 41 7.9.76 Shot in stomach from front
Mosie, Ezekiel, Z. X. Langa 18 12.8.76 Shot in head from front in front of Langa Police Station
Mothutsane, Petrus 25 25.8.76 Gunshot wound to chest
Motsweni, Daniel Nethan Soweto 25.9.76 Gunshot wounds
Mphetha, Lawrence Soweto 26.12.76
Mphithi, Joseph Soweto
Mpinga, Joseph Soweto 34 25.9.76
Mpusula, Simon Soweto 26.12.76
Mshelwane, Lawrence Soweto 27 26.12.76 Gunshot wounds to abdomen
Mshudulu, Welili R Gugulethu 23 11.8.76 Shot in chest from front
Mrwebi, Daniel Gugulethu 23 12.8.76 Shot in stomach from front
Msimanga, Mbekiseni Soweto 26.12.76
Mteto, Temba Gugulethu 21 31.8.76
Mthembo, John Soweto 26.12.76
Mthembu, Reuben Soweto 19 26.12.76
Mthemba, Mzinane 27 14.9.756 Body was found after crowd dispersed
Mthombeni, M. Soweto 26.12.76 Attacked by thugs
Mtshadi, Simon Soweto 26.12.76
Mubuya, Bennett Soweto 26.12.76
Mukel, Dennis Soweto 26.12.76
Muller, Jurie Elsies’ River 16 9.9.76 Shot in side of head and upper body
Mutlane, Herman 42 Bullet wound through head
Mvukuse, Rebson, T Gugulethu 17.9.76 Shot
Mzwamadoda, M.B.A. Langa 35 11.8.76 Shot in right shoulder from behind
Mzila, Hezia Soweto 26.12.76
Mziwoke, Jan Lloyd 35 18.6.76 Gunshot wound to chest
Nabuka, Ambrose Soweto 26.12.76
Nare, Michael Mamelodi 31.12.76
Ncube, Daniel Soweto 26.12.76 Bullet wound to hip
Ndau, Herbert Soweto 26.12.76
Ndebele, Zuzele Soweto 26.12.76
Ndibongo, Michael Soweto 26.12.76
Ndingane, Mzimkhulu Gugulethu 11 14.9.76 Shot in stomach from front
Ndlela, Hector Soweto 20 26.12.76
Ndlovu, H.J. Soweto 26.12.76 Bullet wound to forehead
Ndlovu, Jimmy Soweto 26.12.76
Ndlovu, Lesley Hastings Soweto 17 16.6.76
Ndlovu, Obed Soweto 16 26.12.76
Ndlovu, Timothy Soweto 36 18.6.76
Ndou, Herber Soweto 26.12.76
Nduna, Sifanelo K. Langa 38 11.8.76 Shot in small of back and loin from behind
Ndunga, Nicholas S. Gugulethu 22 11.8.76 Shot in chest from front at bottle store
Ndzube, Norman B. Gugulethu 4.12.76 Shot dead
Ngaba, Wellington Soweto 26.12.76 Shot
Ngabi, Joseph M. Camps Bay 22 11.8.76 Shot dead
Ngcobo, Oben Soweto 17 26.12.76
Nqcobo, Thuthuka 16 15.9.76 Gunshot wounds
Nqcobo, Eric 16 Shot in head
Ngemane, Morris Soweto 26.12.76
Ngobeni, Harry Soweto 26 26.12.76
Ngobeni, Johannes Mabopane 31,12,76
Ngoma, Tennyson Soweto 26.12.76
Ngubene, Aaron Soweto 26.12.76
Ngubene, Vusimuzi Soweto 34 26.12.76
Ngwenya, Amon Vusi Soweto 26.12.76
Ngwenya, Stanley Soweto 34 17.6.76
Nhlapo, Timothy Soweto 31 26.12.76
Nixkey, Basil W. Manenberg 41 9.9.76 Shot in back at Green Dolphin Bottle Store
Nkabinde, Fanyana Soweto 17 26.12.76 Stab wounds to chest and heart
Nkambule, David Soweto 26.12.76
Nkangana, Zacharia Nyanga 18 26.12.76 Shot dead
Nkata, Samuel Soweto 26.12.76
Nkofu, Mnyane, Jacob Soweto 26,12,76
Nkomo, Eric Soweto 17 26.12.76
Nkonyane, Norurau Soweto 34 10.8.76
Nkosi, Jacob Pretoria, Mamelodi 31.12.76
Nkosi, Monica Soweto 6 1.8.76
Nkosi, Patrick Soweto 20 23.8.76 Bullet wound through neck. Shot when fled from arrest
Nkuta, Gordon Soweto 19 25.7.76
Nkutha, H.P. Alexandra 26.12.76 Shot

Response to the June 16 Soweto Youth Uprising by organisations in exile

June 16 marks the commemoration of National Youth Day in South Africa. This is the day the country reflects on the massacre of many innocent school children during the Soweto Uprising of 1976. The response of the organisations in exile can be understood in the context of the events that took place on the day. The students had organised a peaceful march against the Afrikaans Medium Decree, issued in 1974, which made it mandatory for black schools to use the Afrikaans language as the medium of instruction in Mathematics, Social Sciences and Geography at the secondary school level. Punt Janson, the Deputy Minister of then Bantu Education, was quoted as saying: “I have not consulted the African people on the language issue and I’m not going to. An African might find that ‘the big boss’ spoke only Afrikaans or spoke only English. It would be to his advantage to know both languages.”

The policy was deeply unpopular since Afrikaans was regarded by some as the language of the oppressor. It was against this background that on 30 April 1976, students at Orlando West Junior School in Soweto went on strike and boycotted classes. By 16 June, their rebellion spread to other schools in Soweto. Incidentally, the student-organised mass rally on this date turned violent, as the police responded with bullets to stones thrown by the angry students. Many students were shot. The official death toll was 23, but it could have been higher than 200 because the incident triggered widespread violence throughout South Africa, which claimed more lives. The first student to be shot on that fateful day was 15-year old Hastings Ndlovu. However, the killing in the same incident of Hector Pieterson, aged 12, and in particular the publication of his photograph taken by Sam Nzima, made him an international icon of the uprising. It became the major rallying point of the struggle against apartheid.

Military Response: Camps in exile

The incident triggered widespread violence not only in Soweto but also throughout South Africa. For the political organisations in exile, notably, the African National Congr ess(ANC) and Pa n Africanist Congress(PAC), the Soweto unrest in June 1976 provided a golden opportunity both for recruitment and military training of young men and women. Many black people felt in danger of being arrested by the police and further underground activities were launched as a result of this threat. Discreet recruitment operations culminated in many incensed students taking up arms against the government, and being sent for military training. Hence the mushrooming of military camps such as Mkhumbane in Temeke (Tanzania) outside the country, under the command and mentorship of Ntate Mashego and the Engineering camp in Angola. Recruits were advised on how to unlawfully cross the border(s) into Botswana, Swaziland, Angola, Mozambique and Tanzania, where they received military training. It is essential to note that the accession to power of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) in Mozambique and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in Angola in 1975, together with the exodus of thousands of young people in the months following the Soweto uprising, created favourable conditions for the resumption of sabotage activity in South Africa, especially after the collapse of the ANC/Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) joint operation (i.e. the Wank ie Campaign). These developments were followed by the infiltration of trained fighters back into South Africa, bombings of white installations and the trials of anti-apartheid activists.

Clearly, an issue that gave rise to a vast number of trials under security legislation was the massive recruitment of people and their transportation out of South Africa. While there is certainly some indication that this was already on the increase prior to June 1976, the revolts of 1976 clearly gave an enormous boost to the activity of organisations recruiting members for military training. This is especially so in the case of the ANC, but there is also some evidence that PAC activity had been revitalised to some extent. As a result, there were many South Africans in ANC and PAC training camps. The period also witnessed a large number of trials against recruitment for military training. Those who were brought to trial for this offence seemed to reach a peak in 1977 and the first part of 1978. Many trained guerrilla fighters returned to South Africa, often wielding a large quantity of arms, explosives and ammunition. This group included the black school children who fled or were recruited in the wake of the June 1976 rebellion. Their activities gave rise to a number of trials as exemplified by the case of Petrus Bushy Molefe, aged 22, who underwent training in East Germany, and was charged for sabotage and terrorism under the Sabotage and Terrorism Acts of June 1962 and June 1967 respectively. Related to this was the large quantity of arms and ammunition found by police in their attempts to uncover guerrillas in the urban areas and in clashes in the rural areas. It is important to note that most of the arms caches that were uncovered comprised weapons originating from the then Soviet Union, and the Eastern bloc countries, which suggests that the West was not prepared to lend similar support to the Southern African guerrilla movements.

On 30 November 1976 a group of armed guerrillas clashed with the South African Police near Bordergate, on the Swaziland/South African border. A hand grenade was detonated by one of the guerrillas, injuring two policemen, and allowing the insurgents to escape. Shortly before this incident a railway line near Dikgale, in the Pietersburg district, was damaged in a successful sabotage attempt. From December 1976, in a series of raids covering Johannesburg, Soweto, Alexandra, Rustenburg, Odi, Nebo, Pietersburg and Sekhukhuniland, security police detained a number of ANC activists. Towards the middle of 1977 twelve accused activists, who included Mosima Gabriel “Tokyo” Sexwale, were charged under the Terrorism Act in the famous trial of the “Pretoria 12”. They were mainly accused of being members or active supporters of certain unlawful organisations in South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Russia and China such as the ANC, the South African Communist Pa rty(SACP) and Umk honto we Sizwe(MK). They were also alternately charged with endangering, in various ways, the maintenance of law and order in South Africa; undergoing military and other training; possession of explosives, ammunition, firearms and weapons; harbouring and rendering assistance to guerrillas; as well as taking part in the activities of a banned organisation. On the whole, they were accused of conspiring to overthrow the white government and were all convicted on the main count of sedition.

Thus, the response of the political organisations operating in exile was one that was premised on mobilisation, recruitment of people and the organisation of the armed phase of the struggle from outside in order to topple the apartheid government. Clearly, the events of the Soweto revolt and the response from the liberation movement in exile are not isolated developments. They have their roots in the spirit of resistance to the growing crisis of apartheid. The collective resistance to oppression and exploitation in South Africa also fundamentally underpins the relationship that was forged between internal and external forms of organisation after this incident. It led to major transformations in the strategies of the various exiled liberation movements more in accordance with the changing conditions in the country. A militant approach, that found expression in the recruitment and subsequent training of the cadres in neighbouring as well as some European and Asian countries, was emphasised.

References to Youth and the National Liberation Struggle 1894-1994

  • Brits, J. P. (1995). The Concise Dictionary of Historical and Political Terms, London: Penguin.
  • Christie, P. (1991). The Right to Learn: The Struggle for Education in South Africa, Johannesburg: Sached Trust/Ravan Press.
  • Cross, M. (1992). Resistance and Transformation: Education Culture and Reconstruction in South Africa, Johannesburg: Skotaville.
  • Howcroft, P. unpublished South African Encyclopaedia papers.
  • Kallaway, P. (ed) (1984). Apartheid and Education: The Education of Black South Africans, Johannesburg: Ravan Press.
  • Saunders, C. & Southey, N. (1998). A Dictionary of South African History, Cape Town: David Philip.


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