The Hector Pieterson Museum
Did you know?
Hector Pieterson was only 13-years-old when he was shot and killed by apartheid police during the 1970 Soweto uprising.
Today, Soweto is a vibrant, iconic part of greater Johannesburg. Peaceful too, but it was not always so. The Hector Pieterson Museum, Soweto's premier heritage site, is a testament to the dark days of the Apartheid era.
Situated in Orlando West on Khumalo Street, a short way from where the Soweto uprising took place, this Soweto museum is a two-storey red brick building with a Hector Pieterson memorial on the grounds. Inside is a garden of remembrance with the names of all those who died in the uprising inscribed on loose bricks.
On the walls of the Hector Pieterson Museum are enlarged photographs with extensive commentary together with audiovisual presentations telling the story of how, in 1948, the National Party introduced Bantu Education, which was appallingly sub-standard. Black children, however, flocked to schools as they had a motive transcending education - the opportunity to share ideas for liberation.
These ideas were inflamed by the authorities' misguided attempts to make it compulsory for black schools to teach their subjects in Afrikaans - an issue that was to mobilise decisive resistance. On the frosty morning of Wednesday, 16 June 1976, scholars in Soweto assembled on school grounds before beginning their march to Orlando Stadium where a protest against Afrikaans was to be held.
On the way, not far from Phefeni Junior Secondary School on Vilikazi Street, schoolboy Hector Pieterson joined several thousand scholars led by Hastings Ndlovu. After a brief standoff, police opened fire on them, killing Ndlovu and Pieterson. All hell broke loose, unleashing the Soweto Uprising. It was the single most important moment in South African history as it effectively killed the dream of grand apartheid.
From the Hector Pieterson Museum it is a short walk along a tree-lined avenue to the Mandela House national heritage site along Vilikazi Street.
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Who to contact
Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum
Tel: +27 (0) 11 536 0611.