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Shell House massacre

Coordinates: 26°11′57″S 28°02′47″E / 26.19920°S 28.04641°E / -26.19920; 28.04641
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Shell House massacre
Part of the run-up to the 1994 South African general election
Shell House is located in South Africa
Shell House
Shell House
Shell House (South Africa)
Date28 March 1994; 30 years ago (1994-03-28)
Location26°11′57″S 28°02′47″E / 26.19920°S 28.04641°E / -26.19920; 28.04641
Result Amnesty granted to 11 people
Casualties and losses
19–53[1] dead

The Shell House massacre was a 1994 shooting incident that took place at Shell House, the headquarters of the African National Congress (ANC), in central Johannesburg, South Africa in the lead up to the 1994 elections.[2]


Shell House (not to be confused with Luthuli House, where the ANC later relocated) at 51 Plein Street, Johannesburg, South Africa was the headquarters of the ANC after the organisation was unbanned until 1997. On 28 March 1994, about 20,000 Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) supporters marched to Shell House in protest against the 1994 elections that the IFP was intending to boycott.

The ANC people opened fire, killing nineteen people.[3] At the time, guards claimed that the IFP supporters were storming the building or that a tip-off had been received of that being planned.

The Nugent Commission of Inquiry into the killings rejected that explanation. The commission's conclusion was that the shooting by ANC guards was unjustified.[citation needed]

The incident reflected the rising tensions between the ANC and IFP, which had begun in the 1980s in KwaZulu-Natal and had then spread to other provinces in the 1990s. The IFP claimed that the ANC was intent on undermining traditional authorities and the power of Zulu chiefs; the ANC saw a power struggle as the demise of apartheid was finalised.[citation needed]


The incident triggered a state of emergency across eleven magisterial districts in the East Rand, as well as the whole of the KwaZulu and Natal province.[4][2][5]

In June 1995, ANC and then President Nelson Mandela admitted that he had given the order to defend Shell House, even if it should require killing people.[6] In 1995 Willem Ratte laid a complaint of murder against president Nelson Mandela at the police headquarters in Pretoria[7] for the Shell House massacre.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission granted amnesty to 11 people concerning the massacre.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Presentation by his Majesty King Zwelithini Goodwillka Bhekuzulu, King of the Zulu Nation to Mr. Nelson Mandela, President of the African National Congress, 8/04/94 Archived 30 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine South African Government Information
  2. ^ a b ZeroEightyFour (27 September 2012). "The Death of Apartheid - The Whites Last Stand". Archived from the original on 19 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ "Police say IFP negligence led to massacre". Dispatch Online. 16 October 1997. p. 2. Archived from the original on 17 February 2005.
  4. ^ du Toit, Pierre (1995). State Building and Democracy in Southern Africa: Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. US Institute of Peace Press. p. 244. ISBN 1878379461.
  5. ^ Tribune, Chicago. "SOUTH AFRICA'S NEW NIGHTMARE". chicagotribune.com. Archived from the original on 12 February 2022. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  6. ^ "The sad saga of KwaZulu-Natal". africafiles.org. Archived from the original on 20 April 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2006.
  7. ^ Printer, Government; Government Printer (1996). "Debates of the National Assembly (Hansard)". Issues 10-12 (10–12): 3295. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

External links[edit]