On 21 March 1960, a large group of South Africans gathered in Sharpeville, near Johannesburg, to protest against the Pass laws, which required all indigenous Africans over the age of 16 to carry a passbook everywhere they went.
This practice served to severely restrict and control travel, dictating when, where and for how long black South Africans could stay within white areas.
The demonstration began with a festive atmosphere, as 5000 – 7000 thousand South Africans gathered in peaceful protest.
An initial police presence of fewer than 20 officers soon rose to nearly 150 as reinforcements were rushed in, joined by armored personnel carriers.
Scuffles broke out as the crowd, armed with rocks, surged toward the police station. The police opened fire on the crowd, killing 69 people and injuring 180 more.
In present-day South Africa, 21 March is celebrated as a public holiday in honour of human rights and to commemorate the Sharpeville massacre, lest we forget and make the same tragic mistakes again.
Yet South Africans are still under threat of their basic human rights being denied as the country flirts with disaster, due to the national power grid being on the verge of collapse.
Rolling black outs have engulfed South Africa over the past week, with stage 4 load shedding becoming a reality of life for all South Africans.
This impacts on the economy, with jobs being placed in the balance. as business owners struggle to keep their doors open without electricity – which is so critical to the modern world.
The struggle in South Africa today is against poverty and without a constant supply of power, jobs will be lost in an environment where the sole aim should be to create jobs and overcome the scourge of poverty that robs millions of South Africans of their dignity and respect.
Every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity and equal respect.
The struggle for human rights in South Africa can never be over until this has been achieved.