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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]

Sharpeville Closed the Old Chapter:

Sharpeville Closed the Old Chapter:

Sharpeville was neither the first nor the last massacre of Blacks in South Africa. Between 1919 and 1960 there were approximately 21 massacres: e.g. the Bulthoek massacre in 1920 when members of a religious sect were gunned down leaving 163 killed and 129 wounded; there was the 1946 miners strike when 13 miners were shot dead by police. In the post Sharpeville period, in September 1973, 14 black miners were killed by police after a strike at Carltonville.

The importance of Sharpeville is that it marked a qualitative change in the Black struggle for liberation. While the protesters chose as their target the pass laws which were the scourge of the people and a daily reminder of their physical oppression, they in fact challenged the entire system. The ultimate aim of the uprising was the seizure of political power. By inviting arrest the men aimed at depriving the system of that on which it thrived - their labour.

More importantly the Sharpeville massacre removed all doubt about the futility of non-violent protest. Thereafter both the ANC and the PAC adopted the principle of armed struggle as the only means to achieve a non racial democracy in South Africa. Both movement are still operating in exile and are committed to the armed struggle.