Talk:Sharpeville massacre

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Number Killed Discrepancy[edit]

the number of people killed differs in Sharpeville massacre from Pan_Africanist_Congress which is correct? Engleman 02:33, 2004 Jun 1 (UTC)

There was no command given to shoot, it wasn't the apartheid goverments policy to shoot at black protestors.

Article problems[edit]

I've flagged the article for several issues, but mainly they can all be summarised as so: the article presents the information in a narrative form as if the article itself is a report on the incident. It does not have the correct encyclopedic "arm's length" view, which could be achieved by properly referencing other published works. In one fell swoop this means the article has problems of verifiability, original research, neutrality and bias. This should be addressed by rewriting in said arm's length "encyclopedic tone". In addition, the title, although popular in the media, implies a very clear and strong point of view which should be avoided. "Sharpville shootings" seems like a viable alternative. Zunaid 15:55, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Then go right ahead and fix it Zunaid. mhunter 06:49, 1 November 2006 (UTC)

I thought the people gathered was 3000-5000?...LazyManJackson 14:33, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

I agree; change the title to, "Sharpsville Shooting" as being more NPOV. Invmog (talk) 00:18, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

This Is Wrong![edit]

My textbooks say that the pass books were passed in S.Africa before the Sharpeville Massacre! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Skippytim (talkcontribs) 04:43, 24 October 2006

That is correct. The article dose not state the the pass books were passed after Sharepeville, but it is not clear on the time reference. I will try improve this. —Gary van der Merwe (Talk) 13:42, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Editorial in The Times[edit]

The article currently has a very dubious section added in a single anonymous submission in February 2005, saying the following:

"According to the Times newspaper ... the young police officers, shocked by the carnage they had created, rushed to help casualties into the ambulances."

This portrayal of the police is ludicrous - it sounds like PW at his most cynical, or Cliff Saunders the SABC apartheid apologist. I don't have the 1960 text of The Times article, but I found other sources referring to it. The White Tribe of Africa (BBC, 1987) quotes it referring to the "wicked myth of apartheid" and the "blind obstinacy of Verwoerd", and [1] refers to "an editorial in The Times of London uncharacteristically critical of the police". I think it's very unlikely that it portrayed shocked and helpful policeman rushing forward to help their victims.

The paragraph goes on to water it down further, portraying the massacre as a sort of accident, with the following POV excuse:

It could therefore be concluded that the cause of the Sharpeville massacre was not only that the government was oppressive, but also because of the inexperience of the police officers present which caused them to lose control of the situation and start firing on the crowd.

Can anyone supply the actual text of the Times article? Otherwise I think this section should be completely removed or rewritten. Zaian 20:19, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

I think this is it: [2]. —Gary van der Merwe (Talk) 20:45, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, useful reference, but the source is The Times of London newspaper rather than Time Magazine. Zaian 04:58, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

I have now removed the offensive paragraph. Zaian 20:49, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

What is offensive about the suggestion that police may have helped the injured? It is ludicrous to quote an anti-South African political tract as evidence that police did not help injured protestors. The quote was in any case making no reference to Sharpeville. Incidentally Sharpeville was a direct consequence of ANC militancy, and specifically their attacks on police stations (several police had been killed only a few days before when a station was stormed in Natal). The police were under attack. Their problem was they had no non-lethal weapons to defend themselves with - partly due to sanctions. It is odd that this incident should have attracted such media attention, when other massacres on a similar scale which are more deserving of the name - such as the Lattimer massacre - are ignored todayRoyalcourtier (talk) 23:22, 9 September 2016 (UTC)
The problem is, there doesn't seem to be concisive agreement among multiple sources that this detail (the police assisting with the wounded) actually happened. However, I do agree that pamphlets published by the ANC, PAC, or the Anti-Apartheid Movement cannot be considered the most unbiased sources cited here, given the highly emotive context of the topic matter. Feel free to replace any such footnotes with new references as needed. Thanks, --Katangais (talk) 04:38, 10 September 2016 (UTC)
Royalcourtier, if your starting point is "It is odd that this incident should have attracted such media attention", you should give it a break because you really have nothing worth adding here. And Sharpeville was PAC, not ANC. Zaian (talk) 10:00, 12 September 2016 (UTC)


Is there any picture of this event? --Vojvodaen 13:33, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Given the (relatively) recent nature of the event, I doubt there is a public domain picture. There are certainly photos of the casualties, and there were reporters from Drum present at the scene. I'm almost certain the copyright status of the images won't make them usable. (Well, unless you could approach one of the photographers personally, and get them to release a pic under a GFDL-compatible license...) -Kieran 17:33, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

Loaded Language[edit]

The term for the tragical incident is loaded language. The police actually acted in self defence. ( 16:47, 7 August 2007 (UTC)).

If by this you are trying to say that the term "tragic event" is not very neutral or encyclopaedic, then I agree. That paragraph needs a serious edit, which I'll probably tackle at some point when I feel motivated.
As to your other points: If you read the article, you will see some of the analysis regarding whether or not the police acted in self defence. Even if they did, it's quite hard to argue that they used anything other than excessive force. It's also hard to argue that the event was not tragic: A lot of people were shot to death, including women and children. That's tragic, however it may have occurred. -Kieran 00:39, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

The picture shown here was branded a fake at the time. This is mentioned in several History books including the one I used at school in the 1970's (sorry I haven't a reference). If you look carefully in the centre of the picture a guy who appears to be dead is looking up at the camera.

In addition the emotive term massacre used here was a media invention. I believe in terms of the definition of the word this does not qualify since there was clearly provocation although its disputed whether it was armed or unarmed (ie if stones were thrown or not). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:03, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree; loaded language. "Massacre" should be changed to "Shooting" or something else to be true to definition and NPOV. Invmog (talk) 00:20, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

No, we don't make our own definitions. Massacre is the word used in many, many reliable sources. Read WPNPOVTITLE which gives the Boston Massacre as an example and says "In such cases, the commonality of the name overrides our desire to avoid passing judgment (see below). This is acceptable because the non-neutrality and judgment is that of the sources, and not that of Wikipedia editors. True neutrality means we do not impose our opinions over that of the sources, even when our opinion is that the name used by the sources is judgmental." See the discussion below also. --Dougweller (talk) 06:12, 19 February 2011 (UTC)
Biased and malicious sources use the term "massacre". This despite the facts that the mob had surrounded the police station and was trying to break into it. (talk) 17:27, 5 November 2017 (UTC)

UN Reaction[edit]

I just wrote an article on United Nations Security Council Resolution 134 and while it does indeed condemn the actions of the Government of the Union of South Africa, as far as I can tell, the Council never "sat to "consider seriously the apartheid colonial oppression of the African people in South Africa"". Unless a somebody can find a refference to that I'm going to change it. - Schrandit 07:29, 24 August 2007 (UTC)


I'd like to question the neutrality of this article especially loaded terminology like "massacre". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:27, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

By any neutral definition, the killing of 69 unarmed protestors by armed police would qualify as a massacre. Zaian (talk) 10:27, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Nonsense. A "massacre" would require deliberate killing of people one can presume to be innocent. That's not the case. Just that some politcally biased media claims that the mob was "peaceful" and "unarmed" doesn't mean that this actually true. In fact the selectively quoted statements of the police give us some hint that it wasn't. -- (talk) 17:03, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

I personally knew many of the people involved on that day and posted a highly detailed account of what they said besides listing the most authorative books and PhD theses on the subject. However this was all removed a day later from this forum. Mind you, Wikipedia is not alone for such stupidity. I once sent 18 hours recorded interviews plus photos documents of the PAC leaders and others involved on a DVD data disk to Boston University library and they told me they had no use for it and were destroying it! Fortunately Cape Town, Michigan, and otherr universities welcomed it. It is true PAC did prepare for violence at Sharpeville but Sobukwe overruled it. It si a pity whoever controls this blog is either an ANC/SACP stooge or an ignoramus. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ntsukunyane Mphanya (talkcontribs) 04:55, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Ah, now I see the problem. You think this is a blog. It isn't, it's an encyclopedia presenting what reliable sources have to say about the subject with the term 'reliable' described at WP:RS. Sources also have to be WP:Verifiable. Your own experience and knowledge is, I'm afraid, not something you can add to this encyclopedia. Dougweller (talk) 06:15, 16 December 2009 (UTC)
Dougweller is correct: the issue of verifiability regrettably makes, for all intents & purposes, information based on personal experiences not suitable for Wikipedia. Wikipedia is intended as a work of reference, a starting place for further research, not the definitive opinion on a given subject. Since you have personal experience here, which you feel is not being properly drawn upon in the relevant literature, my suggestion is that you write up these memoirs & have them published by a reputable publishing house. (By that, I mean practically any one that isn't a vanity press or self-published.) For example, Aregawi Berhe has done that with his A Political History of the Tigray People's Liberation Movement (1975-1991), & I have been using it for the relevant articles in Ethiopian history. -- llywrch (talk) 18:29, 16 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, and don't forget that the police was encircled by the mob that broke through the gate, which means that the police actually acted in self defence. It is also not true that the mob was "unarmed". -- (talk) 15:35, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

If the "mood began turning unexpectedly hostile. The increasingly agitated mob now adopted a common attitude which was later described as "insulting, menacing, and provocative"". So why does the introduction persist in saying that the crowd was peaceful?Royalcourtier (talk) 04:21, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

The Plot against South Africa[edit]

While taking into account the fact that certain chapters of "The Plot against South Africa" can be a bit exaggerated, Vaque's section on the Sharpeville Massacre, in my opinion, is not just pro-apartheid and pro-police apologist nonsense. He provides credible sources, including quoted statements from South African officials and witnesses who were there at the time. On another note, the incident at Cato Manor was a massacre for the police. Have you actually checked the Cato Manor article and read about how brutally the captured white and black constables alike were treated? They were indeed "savagely murdered". --Katangais (talk) 21:20, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

I will only engage you in conversation if you apologise for this submission comment: "you apparently believe that death by castration and decapitation with machetes is not horrifying enough to qualify as savage". Zaian (talk) 21:43, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
Very well. It was not at all intended to be regarded as derogatory or insulting to any one editor personally in any way. I felt that "killed" was used far too much in the article, and you provided no reason to taking out "savagely murdered". Even so, if it was taken as improper behavior on my part, I sincerely apologise. --Katangais (talk) 21:49, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. Of course I regard it as savage. This is an emotive page, though, and I didn't think the language helped the attempt at NPOV. Regarding the Vaque reference, I can't find any of his text online, and the only information I can find about it is in far-right websites which refer to it approvingly. I think it's fair to judge it harshly in this context. If it is reliable, there should be a less controversial source that can back up the same claims. I suggest finding that source and using it as a reference instead. Zaian (talk) 22:01, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
Since I am currently in possession of an English edition of Vaque's book, I would be happy to list the sources he uses in his Sharpeville section. If you deem any of these appropriate in replacing his book as a reference, do feel free to say so. I believe that the three listed are where he gathered his facts (besides the separate abbreviated quotes): One, Der Afrikansche Nationalkongress - Moskaus Speerspitze gegen Suidafrika, by Henning von Lowis. Two, the Aida Parker Newsletter issue 49 (January, 1985). Three, a letter apparently written by P.M. O'Brien, South African judge. --Katangais (talk) 23:22, 23 January 2012 (UTC)
Benjamin Pogrund was a white journalist present at the massacre, and he wrote about it in "How can Man Die Better", his biography of Robert Sobukwe, which I have. He also quotes from another white journalist who wrote about being present in the crowd at the time. I'll look at adding references from those sources. Zaian (talk) 04:45, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

Emotive Language - Political significance[edit]

Could this be usefully added to the Aftermath section?

The widespead sdoption of the ill-defined but highly-charged word 'massacre' to describe the events which took place at Sharpville amplified its significance far beyond the bare facts. In much the same way that the 'Peterloo Massacre' of 1819 acquired semi-legendary status amongst the British working class political movement, so the use of the word massacre to describe the deaths at Sharpeville also ensured they quickly became part of the fusion of fact and emotion which characterises all political revolutions.

(Just as a postscript, the foundation mythology of all nations is a fascinating topic. That of the USA is particulalry instructive since it is in historical terms quite recent and is well documented. Everything from the Boston Tea Party to George Washington's cherry tree and on through to the use of the word 'patriot' have been mythologised to the point where popular US history often bears little, and sometimes no, relationship to the facts).

S. Ainsworth United Kingdom — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:55, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

No, that's an opinion piece and has no place here, per WP:NOTESSAY. Regarding the term massacre, it can be defined as the indiscriminate killing of a large number of people; even if you believe that the crowd mood was turning ugly or that stones were thrown or the police feared for their lives, even if shots were fired at the police, the police response was so disproportionate and indiscriminate that they killed SIXTY-NINE people. I think it would be hard to find a better example of the term. It's also a turning point in South Africa's history (it was followed by states of emergency, banning of organisations, and the start of armed resistance), and was one of the major events in South Africa in the past century. Why are you and others trying to downplay its significance? Zaian (talk) 20:04, 26 January 2012 (UTC)
When ~200 men are being encircled by an armed hostile crowd of 20.000 and forced to shoot in order to defend themselves. killing 69 is hardly "disproportionate". -- (talk) 14:18, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

No, surely these are facts not opinion: 1. the word massacre is factually ill-defined, 2. the word is emotive. and 3 the use of that word did help propel Sharpeville into an iconic and thus 'quasi-mythical' event which in turn contributed to the eventually political revolution. This does not downplay Sharpeville but rather the other way around, in that both the actual events AND the name they were given have an objective significance. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:32, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

What would you propose as an alternative? "Sharpeville Disturbances" or "Sharpeville Shootings"? In RSA and across the world now, it is referred to by thousands of people as a "massacre". Wikipedia should reflect that. Personally, I consider it an actual massacre in the same manner that America's "Boston Massacre" was called a "massacre", despite relatively minor significance at the time. In this case I will concede that the police also seemed to have been provoked, which explains but does not excuse their actions. They fired their weapons in a wide arc, and continued shooting even after the crowd dispersed. --Katangais (talk) 00:19, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

No, you misunderstand. The name of the event is 'The Sharpville Massacre'. That is what it was and is called, and what it should therefore rightly remain. But my point is that the choice of any name also has an objective significance beyond, or distinct from, the events - and that the choice of the word 'massacre' had in its own right consequences worthy of note. S Ainsworth 30.1.12 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:13, 30 January 2012 (UTC)

Does this warrant a separate section on the article to cover the consequences you mention? A section with proper sources? --Katangais (talk) 20:24, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
Just because sensationalist press and some Marxist minions do call it a massacre doesn't make it one. There is clear indication that the police had good reasons to feel that there life's were in danger and that is why they fired. The problem is that today very view people know what songs Blacks did sing in their own language (making death threats), but then even many Whites knew what that means. -- (talk) 17:52, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

No, I simply refer you back to the first paragraph in this section. S Ainsworth. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:08, 3 February 2012 (UTC)

Marikana Massacre vs Sharpville Massacre[edit]

Wikipedia is know for biast reporting and deleting of information it don't want the public to know. The Marikana Massacre vs Sharpville Massacre will be another good example. Wikipedia already indicated it will not dedicate a page to compare these two massacres, as it will be against the biast nature of the Wikipedia encyclopedia if it allows such a page. Wikipedia is in the business of apartheid bashing & one-sided reporting.

According to, estimated police killed more than 30 striking platinum miners in the bloodiest security operation since the end of white rule. South African Minister for Safety and Security, Nathi Mthethwa, put the number of dead at "more than 30", while the NUM put the figure at 36. We already have public holiday on the 21 march for human rights I wonder what kind of democracy now will make 16 August second human rights holiday to commemorate Marikana platinum plant killed by police or just remove 12 much seems like there is nothing to celebrate .

The Sharpeville Massacre occurred on 21 March 1960, at the police station in the South African township of Sharpeville in the Transvaal (today part of Gauteng). After a day of demonstrations, at which a crowd of black protesters far outnumbered the police, the South African police opened fire on the crowd, killing 69 people. Sources disagree as to the behaviour of the crowd; some state that the crowd were peaceful, while others state that the crowd had been hurling stones at the police, and that the shooting started when the crowd started advancing toward the fence around the police station.

In present day South Africa, 21 March is celebrated as a public holiday to commemorate the Sharpeville Massacre and to celebrate South Africa's democratic government enforcing equal human rights.

What is the difference between Lonmin Marikana of 16 August 2012 when so called democratic police open fire on the crowd of black protesters killing more 30 people, to the 21 March 1960 Sharpeville township massacre near Johannesburg, when apartheid police opened fire on a crowd of black protesters, killing more than 50 people?

More examples of Wikipedia Bias[edit]

Just do an internet search on "Wikipedia Bias"

Man, your sources are at least fourteen times as biased as they claim Wikipedia to be. --Katangais (talk) 00:50, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

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