SA still struggling 53 years after Sharpeville

The only journalist to see the Sharpeville massacre take place says SA is still experiencing atrocities.

Wounded people lie in the street, 21 March 1960 in Sharpeville, near Vereeniging, where at least 180 black Africans, most of them women and children, were injured and 69 killed. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The only journalist to witness the Sharpeville massacre says he cannot believe South Africa is still experiencing similar atrocities.

Humphrey Tyler, who was with Drum Magazine, was at the Sharpeville Police Station when officers opened fire on the more than 5,000 people who gathered to protest against pass laws on 21 March 1960.

He says it is worrying that 53 years later South Africa is still experiencing massacres like the tragedy at Marikana. Thirty-four striking Lonmin miners were shot dead by police last August.

"I'm a bit concerned that recently we had this Marikana shooting which is even more concerning because we don't know exactly what happened. Have we learned anything from that dreadful day?"

Meanwhile, the manager for the Sharpeville Monument Sekwati Mokoena has described how Sharpeville has changed over the past 53 years and reflected on South Africa's changing attitudes towards human rights.

He says it is a far cry from 53 years ago.

"People were living under very harsh conditions. There were pass laws that restricted the movement of people and people were unhappy about their situation. The conditions were really harsh."

Thousands are expected to arrive in Sharpeville on Thursday for a three kilometre commemorative march in the township.