Sharpeville: new research on 1960 South African massacre shows the number of dead and injured was massively undercounted

New research based on interviews with survivors and investigation into government records reveals the true number of victims in the massacre

04 December 2023 - 21:54 By Nancy Clark and William Worger

On March 21 1960 at 1.40pm, apartheid South Africa’s police opened fire on a peaceful crowd of about 4,000 residents of Sharpeville, who were protesting against carrying identity documents that restricted black people’s movement. The police minimised the number of victims by at least one third, and justified the shooting by claiming that the crowd was violent. This shocking story has been thus misrepresented for more than 60 years...

There’s never been a more important time to support independent media.

From World War 1 to present-day cosmopolitan South Africa and beyond, the Sunday Times has been a pillar in covering the stories that matter to you.

For just R80 you can become a premium member (digital access) and support a publication that has played an important political and social role in South Africa for over a century of Sundays. You can cancel anytime.

Already subscribed? Sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.