Hector Pieterson Museum, Soweto

In June 1976, school children in Soweto peacefully protested the enforcement of Afrikaans and English as a dual medium of instruction in secondary schools. Police arrived soon and fired tear gas into the crowd, and eventually started firing shots. Hector Pieterson was one of the school boys who was shot. He was immediately picked up by Mbuyisa Makhubo. Newspaper photographer Sam Nzima captured an iconic image that shows Mbuyisa running towards his car with Pieterson’s sister Antoinette, while holding Hector. Although they managed to get him to a clinic, he was pronounced dead immediately. 10 other people died and another 250 were injured on the same day. Mbuyisa went into hiding after being harassed by the police, and has not been heard from since.

The Hector Pieterson memorial was erected in the early 1990s, not far from where Hector was shot, to commemorate all those who died or were injured during the Soweto uprising in June 1976. On June 16, 2002, the Hector Pieterson Museum opened right next to the memorial. The museum celebrates the role of the students in South Africa’s struggle for freedom.


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