Sharpeville Heritage PrecinctEnquire Now
3km from Vanderbijlpark
+27 16 451 3786 www.sedibeng.gov.za
Situated between the industrial towns of Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging, about 50km south of Johannesburg, is the township of Sharpeville.
The township is synonymous with a historic morning on 21 March 1960, when apartheid police were confronted by an unarmed crowd walking to the local police station to protest the carrying of pass books. The police panicked and opened fire, killing 69 people and injuring 180 others.
The event, which became known as the Sharpeville Massacre, caused waves of protests around the country and sparked international outrage.
The significance of Sharpeville is profound. South Africa's Human Rights Day, 21 March, coincides with Sharpeville Day. It was declared by the UN as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The ANC-led government chose the township for the signing the Constitution of South Africa on 10 December 1996.
A visit to the Sharpeville Memorial at Human Rights Precinct is a calm, contemplative affair compared to that fateful day. The memorial honours those who lost their lives, as well as the survivors.
Major redevelopment of the site is in progress and will shortly incorporate the Phelindaba Cemetery and a Constitution Walk. The latter will link the memorial centre and the George Thabe Stadium, ensuring that Sharpeville keeps its rightful place as one of South Africa’s most poignant heritage sites.