Hector Pieterson Museum & Memorial in Orlando West, Soweto, Gauteng
The Hector Pieterson Museum is a unique and spacious museum and can be found in Orlando west in Soweto South Africa. It is one of the first museums to be established in Soweto. The museum was built to venerate the 12 year old Hector Pieterson and 20 other children who were shot dead by the police in a youth demonstration that turned violent on 16 June 1976. Children had gathered to protest against the use of Afrikaans as a first language in the schools of the Soweto Township when the violence erupted.
20 children were killed on that fateful day but Hector caught the attention of the world because of a photograph taken by Sam Nzima (for The World Newspaper) of his dying body being carried by a fellow student accompanied by Hector’s sister. There are no photographs of Hector as his family did not have any at the time of his death.
Hector’s surname was spelt incorrectly on the memorial but it was later revealed that the family had changed the spelling to Pieterson (an Afrikaans spelling) as they were then classified as coloured people who enjoyed more freedoms than if they were classified black.
The memorial and museum are situated only a couple of blocks from where Hector was killed.
Large blocks of layered and packed slate make up part of the water feature in which is placed a life size photograph of Hector being carried by an unnamed youth. The plaque with inscriptions is made of red granite that is also used in other parts of the memorial.
The museum was constructed in 1976 (at a cost of R23.2 million) and was opened on 16 June 2002. The building is made of red brick and consists of a 2 storeys with odd shaped narrow windows placed randomly in the walls. The interior has high ceilings and wooden floors in keeping with the houses in the area at that time. The museum consists of an extensive display of photographs of the era and the conflict especially of the death scene of Hector Pieterson. There is also a large display of memorabilia of the era and cultural object d’art.
Hector's sister, Antoinette Sithole, who appears on the famous photograph is currently working at the museum as a tour guide.
Monday to Saturday, 10h00 to 17h00
Sunday, 10h00 to 16h30
Closed on Christmas Day and the Day of Goodwill
There is an admission fee. Please consult their website for current prices.
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