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The Sharpeville massacre took place in Sharpeville, South Africa on March 21, 1960, as the result of a non-violent protest of Africans against the racism of Apartheid. The protest was organized by the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) as part of a nationwide anti-pass campaign with the hope of breaking Apartheid's immoral passbook system. Under Apartheid laws, all Africans were required to carry their passbooks with them at all times, which provided information such as name, address, ethnicity, occupation, photo identification, and lists of arrests. "The PAC called on its supporters to leave their passes at home on the appointed date and gather at police stations around the country, making themselves available for arrest. The campaign slogan was 'NO BAIL! NO DEFENCE! NO FINE!' The PAC argued that if thousands of people were arrested, then the jails would be filled and the economy would come to a standstill."



Timeline Of Events

  • The Pan Africanist Congress planned a demonstration on March 21, 1960. On this date, "PAC supporters were to voluntarily leave their passes at home and offer themselves up for arrest at the nearest police station." Protests took place in Sharpeville and in the Western Cape in townships such as Langa.
  • 10:00 a.m. - a large crowd had gathered, and the atmosphere was initially peaceful and festive. As the crowd grew to about 20 000 people, things got tense and the police called in 130 police reinforcements, armored tanks, and jets.
  • 1:20 p.m. - When police tried to seize an African at the gate to the compound, there was a scuffle and the crowd advanced toward the fence. Police Commander G. D. Pienaar called out an order to his men to load. Within minutes, almost in a chain reaction, the police began firing with revolvers, rifles, Sten guns.
  • 1:20 - 1:22 p.m. - "The official figure is that 69 people were killed, including 8 women and 10 children, and over 180 injured, including 31 women and 19 children. Many were shot in the back as they turned to flee."