Sharpeville (also spelled Sharpville) is a township situated between
two large industrial cities of
Sharpeville is one of the oldest of six townships in
the Vaal Triangle. It was named after John Lillie Sharpe who came to
South Africa from Glasgow, Scotland, as secretary of Stewarts &
Lloyds. Sharpe was elected to the
Vereeniging Town Council in 1932 and
held the position of mayor from 1934 to 1937.
The main reason for the establishment of
Sharpeville was the
relocation of people from 'Top location" to an area away from
Vereeniging because it was felt black people were too close to
Vereeniging for comfort. Unfortunately, because the project was only
intended to relocate residents of "Top location", and not to house
additional people, it did not alleviate the housing shortage. What was
planned as a five-year resettlement project beginning in 1935, in
fact, took 20 years. In 1941, 16,000 people lived in "Top Location".
The building of the houses only started in 1942. A sub-economic
housing scheme was used for Sharpeville. Water was free but 14 houses
shared one tap and there were two bathing complexes in the township.
By 1946 some of the houses had their own taps and bathrooms. The
township was first called "Sharpe Native Township" but it changed to
Sharpeville in the 1950s.
Place in South African history
With the implementation of the apartheid government’s Group Areas
Act 21 of 1950, it was estimated that over 3.5 million South Africans
were forcibly removed from 1960 to 1982. Of the "Top Location"
residents, Blacks were moved to Sharpeville,
Coloureds to Rus-ter-vaal
and Indians to Roshnee. The Indians were the last ethnic group to
leave "Top Location", the last residents being moved to Roshnee in
1974. In 2004, the people of Top location were compensated for the
loss of their properties and land, and an amount of R60,000 per house
was paid to all former residents or dependants.
On 21 March 1960 the
Sharpeville massacre occurred when the PAC (Pan
Africanist Congress) organised a protest in which black Africans burnt
the Apartheid-required pass books which restricted them from going in
certain areas. What had started as a peaceful protest soon became
violent, as a result of which
South African Police
South African Police opened fire on the
crowd. Sixty-nine black people were killed and 178 wounded by police
during the violence.
Sharpeville was also the site of a controversial murder in 1983 which
led to the arrest, trial, and death sentences (later commuted) of the
Nelson Mandela signed the
South African Constitution
South African Constitution in
Sharpeville on 10 December 1996. He also opened "The Sharpeville
Memorial" to honour the victims of the
Sharpeville massacre of 1960.
March 21 is now celebrated as Human Rights Day.
^ a b c d "Main Place Sharpeville". Census 2011.
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Municipalities and communities of Sedibeng District Municipality,
District seat: Vereeniging
Three Rivers East
Three Rivers Proper
Henley on Klip