- Historical event
- 21 March 1960
- Officers came armed with automatic rifles, while the protesters had no weapons except for stones. When the angry protesters began to approach the police officers, they opened fire. It was the biggest racist massacre in the history of apartheid.
On this day in South Africa, the memory of the biggest massacre in its history of apartheid is commemorated. Namely, police forces in Sharpevill killed 69 black protesters who were protesting against the government’s policy of segregation of whites and blacks.
About 19,000 people were at the protest, and they came to the police station and voluntarily offered themselves to be arrested for not carrying their passbooks.
There were only twenty officers, so they called reinforcements in the form of another 130 police officers and four armored vehicles. The officers came armed with automatic rifles, while the protesters had no weapons except for stones. The government sent planes as well, trying to disperse the crowd by flying low.
When the angry protesters began to approach the police officers, they opened fire. The massacre lasted for about 40 seconds.
Among others, ten children and eight women were killed, and a total of 180 people were wounded, of which 31 women and 19 children.
Many of them were shot in the back while on the run. It is not exactly clear why the officers began firing, perhaps due to inexperience and panic, and perhaps because the crowd began to throw stones at them (the reports vary on that).
UNESCO marks this day as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.