Hector Pieterson Memorial Site, Johannesburg

Gauteng Tourist Attractions

Hector Pieterson Memorial Site, Johannesburg

Hector Pieterson Memorial Site, Johannesburg
Hector Pieterson Memorial Site, Johannesburg

The Hector Pieterson* Memorial and museum opened in Soweto in 2002, not far from the spot where 12 year-old Hector was shot on the 16 June 1976 during the Soweto uprising that today is a symbol of resistance to the brutality of the apartheid government.

Soweto, a city developed as a township for black people during apartheid, lies south of Johannesburg. Its residents number some two million people with homes that range from shacks to extravagant mansions, and the Hector Pieterson Memorial Site is included on any number of tours through the area. On 16 June on the day Hector was killed, school children had gathered to protest the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in township schools. There are contradictory accounts of just who gave the first command to shoot but as children began singing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, and before they could be dispersed, the police opened fire. Some 20 children died in the ensuing pandemonium.

Hector Pieterson has become something of an iconic image of the fateful day, mostly due to a photograph published across the globe by Sam Nzima, photographer at the time for The World newspaper in Johannesburg, of the dying Hector carried by a fellow student, Hector’s sister alongside, her hands held out in panic. Today 16 June is National Youth Day to honour young people.

Since its erection, the memorial plaque for Hector Pieterson has been repeatedly vandalized; ironically it seems due to children who don’t understand the relevance or important historical implications of the memorial.

* Since June 1976, Hector's surname has been spelled Peterson and Pietersen by the press but the family insists that the correct spelling is Pieterson. The Pieterson family was originally the Pitso family but decided to adopt the Pieterson name to try to pass as "Coloured" (the apartheid-era name for people of mixed race), as Coloured people enjoyed somewhat better privileges under apartheid than blacks did. .

Hector Pieterson Memorial Site

Accommodation nearby

For accommodation nearby see:
• Auckland Park • Bedfordview • Braamfontein • Craighall Park • Cresta • Darrenwood
• Douglasdale • Dunkeld West • Emmarentia • Joburg Central • Kensington • Lanseria
• Linden • Marshalltown • Melville • Midrand • Northcliff • Norwood
• Observatory • Orchards • Ormonde • Parkhurst • Parktown • Parkview
• Parkwood • Randburg • Sandton • Saxonwold • Soweto • Westcliff

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Attractions / Activities nearby

Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum is the story of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Beginning in 1948, the white elected National Party government initiated a process which turned over 20 million people into 2nd class citizens, damning them to a life of servitude, humiliation and abuse. Their liberation in ... more information

Soweto Overnight Tours

Visit this fascinating town, meet her people, learn about the history of Soweto from the people who experienced it, dine in her restaurants, visit a Shebeen (local Pub), take a guided tour and perhaps visit the Hector Peterson Memorial Site, Nelson Mandela's former home (now a museum), Baragwanath ... more information

Soweto Tours

The Soweto Tour: The Soweto tour gives you the opportunity to gain a new perspective and personal insight into the largest Black city in Africa. Soweto is synonymous with the struggle for freedom in South Africa and is a vibrant, culturally rich township situated on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Within ... more information

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South Africa is one of the most diverse and enchanting countries in the world. With eight world heritage sites, a multitude of game reserves and national parks, over 1350 ha of national botanical gardens, and exotic combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture, South Africa offers the traveller a unique and inspiring experience. Enjoy your stay in Soweto!
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