Ace Moholo‚ a student during the 1976 student uprising recalls how he and his former schoolmates fought the apartheid regime.
Attending the 40th anniversary of the June 16 Soweto and other related uprisings – which ended tragically with hundreds of young people brutally killed by the apartheid government – Moholo said he would never forget that day.
“Everything started at Phefeni Secondary School in Orlando West where we were supposed to collect students from other schools. The police had barricaded the roads so that we couldn’t proceed to the [Orlando] stadium.
“We refused to disperse and then they let their dog loose so that it could bite us. We then killed the dog and that’s what made them crazy. They then started throwing teargas at us and it was the first time experiencing such a thing‚ however we were able to distinguish it using water‚” said the 59-year-old who hails from Mofolo‚ Soweto.
The former student of Morris Isaacson High School‚ said it was during his mid-year matric examinations that the tragic killing of students took place.
Thousands of students had to leave behind their beloved families and friends to flee into exile where they joined liberation movements such as the ANC and the PAC as well as their military wings Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and the Azania People’s Liberation Army (APLA) to respond to the violence of the then apartheid system‚ he said.
Moholo states that his most memorable experience was when the police used live ammunition to disperse the crowd.
“I saw some of my friends falling onto the ground‚ I couldn’t believe my eyes‚ I couldn’t believe what was happening because intentionally‚ it was a simple and peaceful march but it turned into a bloodbath‚” added Moholo.
On Thursday morning‚ a number of activities took take place to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the student uprising‚ including the renaming of Thabethe Street in Orlando West‚ Soweto‚ to Ndlovu Street in order to commemorate Hastings Ndlovu. The traditional wreath laying ceremony at the Hector Pieterson Memorial‚ Soweto‚ was led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The democratic government proclaimed June 16 National Youth Day in honour of those who lost their lives on this fateful day.
President Jacob Zuma will deliver a speech at Orlando Stadium later on Thursday.