Sharpeville Massacre: 55 years on

Fifty-five years ago today, thousands marched to Sharpeville police station to protest against the pass laws.

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

CAPE TOWN - Fifty-five years ago today, thousands of men, women and children marched to the Sharpeville police station in the then Transvaal area, to protest against the pass laws enforced by the apartheid government.

While the crowd sang freedom songs, police opened fire without warning, killing 69 people and injuring 200.

Various events have been planned today to commemorate what has become a defining moment in the struggle against apartheid.

Today is known as Human Rights Day and the nation remembers the killing of 69 people by the apartheid police.

In the wake of the Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 1960, people across the country took to the streets.

In Langa police killed three protesters. Nine days later 23-year-old Philip Kgosana led a march of more than 30,000 to Parliament where he was arrested.

Government then declared a state of emergency and banned both the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress.

Today a crowd will gather in Langa to commemorate those who stood up against apartheid.

Economic Freedom Fighter leader, Julius Malema, will speak at Langa High School.