Meetings that sparked the Soweto June 16 uprising

Meetings that sparked the Soweto June 16 uprising

Sharing information: Eunice Rakhale-Molefe (left) compiles voices who were at the forefront of Soweto '76 uprising

Did you know that a meeting which was held at Naledi High School on the 8th of June was the actual build-up to the Soweto 16th uprising in 1976? Subsequent to that there was another gathering on the 13th at YMCA Hall in Orlando East. These meetings led to the full 16 June explosion. Tens of Soweto school children died at the hands of the apartheid security forces.


Revelations: voices and activism before the Soweto June ’76 massacre

The details are contained in a book, June 1976 Commemorative Dialogue, authored and published by Mme Eunice Rakhale-Molefe.  It took her a year to put together stories based on experiences of some of the activists. Human rights icon Reverend Frank Chikane and Enos Ngutshane are among those featured in the book.

“The book was a project of Naledi High School. We would gather at the school on weekends for discussions. Sometimes I visited homes and workplaces of the narrators in the book, to share their experience about the Soweto uprising,” Mme Eunice reminisces.

Mme Eunice believes that many people don’t know that the June 16 massacre was sparked by culmination of a lot of things.  “The use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at schools was just a last straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Thousands of school were on their way to gather at Orlando Stadium for a peaceful march against the apartheid regime. They were confronted by security forces who were armed to teeth.  They shot and killed about 176 unarmed learners, and over a thousand were injured. But those in the know say the number of people killed is way over than that. The apartheid government report claimed that only 23 learners were killed during the march.

The book, June 1976 Commemorative Dialogue bases its stories from the 8th of June in 1976, moving forward. It is available on Amazon as an ebook and a hard copy. The department of education has approved it and can also be found at state libraries.