sharpeville echoes: the story of south africa's worst apartheid massacre

This is the story of the worst massacre under apartheid in the township of Sharpeville.

programme information


1 x 60'

Production Company

Factuals: Biography and History Unit





Episode Information

In the same year South Africa hosts the soccer World Cup, the country marks the 50th anniversary of the worst massacre under apartheid. It’s a measure of how far South Africa has come since the fateful day on 21 March 1960 when police opened fire on peaceful demonstrators in the little known township of Sharpeville. At least sixty-nine people were killed - most shot in the back as they tried to flee. The massacre changed the course of South African history, leading to a vicious crackdown on further anti-apartheid dissent. Fifty years on, the handful of remaining survivors still meet to help each other cope with their enduring trauma - the physical scars are still as vivid as their painful memories. Although the Sharpeville massacre will forever symbolise the brutality of minority white rule, there are still many conflicting theories and unanswered questions about what prompted the police to unleash such violence. This documentary includes interviews with the survivors, the only photographer who witnessed the massacre, and researchers and historians who have attempted to piece together this most infamous turning point of the apartheid era.

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