The Langa Massacre: Remembering the Tragic Massacre of Funeral Attendees by South African Apartheid Police in 1985

The Langa Massacre of 1985 stands out as a chilling example of police brutality during South Africa’s tumultuous apartheid era. As mourners made their way to the funeral of one of the six individuals slain by apartheid police on March 17, 1985, members of the South African Police opened fire on the crowd. This brutal act resulted in the deaths of 35 people and left 27 others wounded, highlighting the extreme violence and repression faced by black South Africans under apartheid rule.

The Langa Massacre: How South African Apartheid Police Massacred Funeral Attendees in 1985

The 1980s were marked by intensifying resistance against apartheid, with townships across South Africa becoming epicenters of protest. Anti-apartheid movements were gaining momentum, mobilizing masses against the oppressive regime. The apartheid government, facing increasing unrest, had authorized the use of lethal force against protestors, a decision that culminated in the tragic events of March 21. This escalation of violence was indicative of the regime’s failure to acknowledge the legitimacy of the black South Africans’ grievances and their right to gather.

On March 21, 1985, the 25th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre – a horrific event where police in South Africa opened fire on a peaceful protest against racist pass laws, killing 69 people and injuring hundreds more – a peaceful gathering in Langa township turned into a scene of horrific violence.

A crowd of black South Africans had gathered at Maduna Square and were heading to the Kwanobuhle township, to attend the funeral of one of six individuals killed by apartheid police in earlier protests that month. However, the gathering was deemed illegal by the Apartheid government. As the unarmed crowd continued their march to the funeral, they were met by South African police forces who blocked the road with two armoured vehicles and ordered the crowd to disperse. However, the crowd continued to march peacefully. Realising that the crowd was not following their orders, the police opened fire on them. The shooting left 35 people dead and 27 wounded. The brutal show of force against unarmed civilians shocked the nation and the world, drawing international condemnation and highlighting the cruelty of the apartheid regime.

Following the massacre, the community was left reeling from the loss of loved ones and the trauma of the violence inflicted upon them. A mass funeral held on April 13, 1985, brought together thousands to mourn the victims and protest against the injustices of apartheid. The international community, already critical of South Africa’s apartheid policies, condemned the massacre and called for an end to state-sanctioned violence against civilians.

In the aftermath of the massacre, the South African apartheid government was forced to reckon with the consequences of its actions. In 1987, the Minister of Law and Order acknowledged the wrongful and negligent actions of the police by authorizing a payout of R2.3 million to 51 individuals who were injured or widowed as a result of the massacre. This acknowledgment, while significant, fell short of addressing the deep-rooted issues of injustice and inequality that permeated South African society under apartheid.

The Langa Massacre, like the Sharpeville Massacre before it, became a symbol of apartheid’s brutality and the resilience of those fighting against it. Memorials and commemorations continue to serve as reminders of the sacrifices made in the struggle for freedom and justice in South Africa.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Join Our Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter today and start exploring the vibrant world of African history and culture!

Just In

Queen Mary Thomas: The Woman Who Led the Largest Labour Riot in Danish History in 1878

Mary Thomas, famously known as Queen Mary, was an important figure in the labour history of the Danish West...

More Articles Like This