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Sharpeville is a township situated between two industrial towns, namely Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging in Gauteng. It has gone down in history for two major events:

  • The massacre of 1960
  • The signing of the Constitution of South Africa in 1996

In 1960, on 21 March, the residents had been demonstrating against the 'pass laws' when thousands of people, organised by the Pan African Congress, marched to the police station and demanded to be arrested for they would no longer adhere to the law of having to carry an identification book known as a 'pass'. 

The police panicked when faced with a crowd of approximately 7000 demonstrators and opened fire in an act of self defence, killing 69 and injuring 180. This event caused international outrage and even more so at home, turning the oppressed black people more against the government of the time.

The Memorial

A memorial was unveiled in 2002 by Nelson Mandela who named Sahrpeville, "The Cradle of Human Rights", on the 42nd anniversary of the massacre. 

The Memorial Garden is located in the Phelindaba Cemetery where the 69 people who lost their lives have been buried.

Memorial Wall

The memorial is represented by a clay brick wall with a row of raw steel columns on the outer perimeter; each column having a granite flag on top representing people standing in a row all facing in the same direction. There is a planter on top of the wall with a white Freylinia hedge.

Behind the wall are 156 vertical raw steel poles with a black and white flower head on top, similar to flowers that are layed on graves in a cemetery. 

On the opposite edge to the wall is a row of trees with benches underneath them for visitors to sit on. These trees form an enclosing perimeter that gives the space a sense of protection.

 Gathering Area

Due to the fact that this memorial is in a cemetery that is still in use, it was decided to form gathering 'spaces' for official gatherings; a large lawned area to the north of the wall.

Pathway to the Memorial

The visitor walks down a long path through the cemetery, past the 69 graves to the far east side of the memorial area, along the length of the wall, past the steel columns and into the garden where he can see the "flower" sculptures. The visitor then goes up a slope behind the Memorial wall to the viewing area, where he has a view of the cemetery as he looks back.

Visiting Times

The cemetary is open at all times but it is advisable to contact the person mentioned on this page to make arrangements and for further information.

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