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Sharpeville Six
On September 3, 1984, twenty four years after the Sharpeville Massacre, black workers in the Vaal Triangle observed a 'stay away' in protest against the rent increases announced by the Lekoa council. The Lekoa council came about as a conciliatory measure to the black people for their exclusion from the soon to be formed, tricameral parliamentary system. The Black Local Authorities Act was passed in 1982, which provided for elected black councils that would take over the administration that was formerly the responsibility of the government. Black councilors in the townships were labelled as agents of the government and were seen as corrupt self enrichers at the expense of the poverty stricken residents. The deputy mayor of Lekoa and resident of Sharpeville, Mr. Kuzwayo Jacob Dlamini, was considered as not really caring about the people. When the rent increase was announced, he became an obvious target for the Sharpeville protest. On this fateful day, a departure from the intended peaceful protest occurred when protesters began stoning the house of Mr. Dlamani. He responded by firing a gun into the crowd.
This action only served to enrage the protesters further and he was subsequently killed in the ensuing melee. Eight people were arrested in connection with the murder, of which six, were sentenced to death by the courts. The fate of the "Sharpeville Six", as they were to become known, drew international media attention. Governments from around the world, shocked by the severity of the sentences, put pressure on the South African government and appealed for clemency. Eventually, the "Sharpeville Six" were reprieved and their individual sentences were commuted to between 18 and 25 years imprisonment.