August 19, 1963
June 16, 1976
Age at Death:
Hector Pieterson was born in Soweto, South Africa. He has three siblings Antoniette Sithole, Sina Molefi, and Lulu Pieterson. He was a schoolboy and student activist who became a symbol of youth resistance to apartheid. Hector's final resting place is at Avalon Cemetery in Soweto, South Africa.
On June 16, 1976, Soweto high school students took to the streets in a peaceful protest against the mandatory use of Afrikaans as a language of instruction in black secondary schools. Many young people were inspired by the ideas of Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement, giving them the necessary motivation to resist the Bantu Education system. This system, introduced by the apartheid government in the 1950s was designed to train African people to accept a subservient role in apartheid society. In Orlando West, police confronted the marchers and ordered them to disperse. Despite the peaceful nature of the march, the confrontation turned violent and was here that a number of students, including Hector Pieterson, were shot and killed.
Was justice served?
As of 1976, justice has not been served. No police officers were held responsible, instead police requested a list of victims from the hospital with bullet wounds after the uprising to prosecute them for rioting. These circumstances stirred an emotional response across the country. Eventually, leading to commemoration of the youths who took it upon themselves to rise and fight discrimination and their significance in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, June 16th was set as a national holiday.