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Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum

Johannesburg, Gauteng

The Hector Pieterson Museum is a heritage site intrinsically linked to the origins of the Soweto Uprisings and its aftermath. By 10.30 am on 16 June 1976, thousands of students had gathered in Orlando West around Vilakazi Street and the precinct where the Hector Pieterson Museum is presently located to begin a protest march against the imposition of the Afrikaans language as the medium of instruction in Soweto’s schools. More students from the various parts of the sprawling townships were still on their way to Orlando West/Phefeni. Police opened fire, killing Hastings Ndlovu and Hector Pieterson. The shooting sparked off days of unrest and hundreds of deaths. The Soweto uprisings had begun.

After 16 and 17 June 1976, nothing in South Africa would be the same again. An old era was past. A new one was beginning.

The Hector Pieterson Museum’s Orlando West precinct includes the following important sites: the spots where both Hector Pieterson (Vilakazi Street) and Hastings Ndlovu (Khumalo Street) were shot dead by the police; Orlando West/Phefeni Junior Secondary School in Vilakazi Street where the first official class boycotts took place in May 1976; Belle Higher Primary School, whose students joined the May 1976 class boycott; and the Phomolong Clinic where Antoinette Sithole (Hector Pieterson’s sister) and Mbuyisa Makhubu rushed to, only for the on-duty doctor to confirm that young Hector Pieterson was dead.

The precinct also includes: Nelson Mandela’s Orlando West house, which is opposite the Orlando West Junior Secondary school; Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s house, which is a stone’s throw away in Vilakazi Street; and the Sisulu’s and Zeph Mothopeng’s Orlando West houses and Mbuyisa Makhubu’s home, all of which are a few metres away from the museum.


8287 Kumalo Street, Orlando West, Soweto

Opening & Closing Times:

10am-5pm (Mon-Sat); 10am-4pm (Sunday).