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How HECTOR PIETERSON actually died and history of SARAFINA, SOWETO

Less than 1 minute Reading time: About Minutes

All that was born around 1992 through 2000 will be aware of the South African music and the movie known as Sarafina. The music and the movie talk about the freedom that South African needed from the Germans, their colonial masters especially the students as the Germans introduced the use of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in the various local schools.

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The local students formed a movement called Soweto Uprising to protest against the act and on 16th June 1976, the students executed their protest but unfortunately, they were clashed by the police, and approximately 700 students were shot dead but 176 were given for records.


The first student recorded on camera shot dead by the police is Hector Pieterson. Hector Pieterson was seen carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo and his sister, Antoinette Sithole runs beside them. This photograph was shot by a news photographer, Sam Nzima. It is believed that another schoolboy Hastings Ndlovu was the first to be shot by the police but due to the unavailability of a cameraman on the spot and his name not being known immediately, Hector Pieterson has been credited this attribute.



Hector Pieterson was almost 13 years old when he was shot dead by the police on 16th June 1976. When Hector was shot, he fell on the corner of Moema and Vilakazi street. Vilakazi street is one of the popular streets in South Africa because it houses two popular persons: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

Mbuyisa Makhubo and Sam Nzima were both harassed by the police and in that view, they went into hiding. Mbuyisa, as recalled, was heard from after 2 years and since had not been heard from again to date.

Hector Pieterson together with Hastings Ndlovu was buried at the Avalon Cemetery in Soweto. To honor Hector Pieterson and those who died out of the Soweto Uprising protest, Hector Pieterson Museum was built and opened on 16th June 2002 just around where he was shot dead. As of 2010, Hector’s sister Antoinette who was seen running beside them when Hector was being carried by Mbuyisa after he was shot served as a tour guide in the museum.



The music Sarafina was composed by Mbongeni Ngema to mark the freedom sought by the local South African students in 1976.

In 1992, a film directed by Darell Roodt with stars like Whoopi Goldberg, Miriam Makeba, John Kani Ngema, and Leleti Khumalo as the lead characters were also done to portray how the incident of Soweto Uprising took place and how the students including Hector Pieterson were shot dead with the same name Sarafina which features the music titled Sarafina as the movie music.

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Morris Isaacson Secondary School

Morris Isaacson Secondary school is the black school where most of the students were shot and injured during the Soweto Uprising protest.


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