Corpses scattered across a police station precinct‚ the brutal beatings of injured survivors and pregnant women running for cover.
This is the savage scene that still haunts survivors of the Sharpeville massacre today.
The tragedy‚ commemorated this week‚ claimed the lives of over 60 people who gathered to protest against pass laws‚ which required black people to carry what was commonly referred to as a dompas.
“The dompas was a policeman in itself because when you were carrying it‚ it’s mentioning everything. We had no freedom of movement‚” said Sharpeville survivor Abram Mofokeng.
On March 21‚ 1960 members of the Pan Africanist Congress and Sharpeville residents gathered in the southern Gauteng township and marched on the police station‚ chanting songs of freedom.
Mofokeng and other survivors remember the day’s events and the oppressive pass laws clearly.
“We were just shot for sweet nothing. Just for crying for our rights. Rights of people who deserve it. The right to stay peacefully in our own country.”
The crowd awaited an address from authorities in the afternoon when a scuffle broke out at the police station’s entrance‚ which was followed by police opening fire on the protesters.
“People got scattered around the place running away‚ old‚ young and even pregnant women were running away‚”
Agnes Tsoai‚ who was pregnant‚ lost her first husband on that day.
“It was a painful sight to watch. I was three months pregnant then and I cannot even begin to explain the state I was in.”
The three survivors who shared their stories all recount the day with bitter emotion.
“I’m still angry now because I’m not what I used to be before‚” Mofokeng said.
The official inquest records the death of 69 people and 180 people who were seriously injured‚ according to website South African History Online.