June 16 is 40

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pretoria - South Africa today marks the 40th anniversary of the historic 16 June 1976 Soweto uprising, where students united in the fight against an oppressive education system. 

Hundreds of students and young people were brutally killed by the apartheid security forces, while many were injured, imprisoned and tortured.

Forty years on, the day is commemorated under the theme ‘Youth Moving South Africa Forward’. The theme recognises the role that the youth of South Africa has played, and continues to play, in taking the country forward and its ability to create a new path for the next 40 years.

Proceedings to mark the 40th anniversary of June 16 are already underway in Soweto.  The day started with the unveiling of the Dr Melville Edelstein plaque, led by Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau, at the corner of Mphuthi and Maelolo streets in Western Jabavu.

When violence broke out on June 16, Dr Edelstein, who was 57 at the time of his death, was in Soweto for the opening of a new sheltered workshop programme for the disabled. He was beaten to death by an angry mob at Mphuthi Street, who mistook him for a member of the apartheid regime.

Street renaming

Today, Thabethe Street in Orlando West was renamed after Hastings Ndlovu, which is some 400 metres from Hector Pieterson Memorial. The event was overseen by Gauteng Premier David Makhura. Fifteen-year-old Hastings Ndlovu is believed to have been the first youth killed during the uprising.

The traditional wreath laying ceremony at the Hector Pieterson Memorial will be led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

President Jacob Zuma will crown the day by delivering a speech at Orlando Stadium.

The June 16 tragedy is important in the South African political calendar. South Africans use the day to reflect on the scores of students who died on the day in the name of breaking the bonds of oppression. June 16 today is also used to highlight the role played by young people in the country’s fight for freedom and democracy. - SAnews.gov.za