12 causes of the 1976 Soweto up rising

The Soweto uprising begun on 16th June 1976, when a group of around 15000 pupils were fired at by the police killing 25.

The school children were mainly protesting against poor education system such as congested classrooms and low staffing.

It took place in the slum town of Soweto

It re-occurred in September the same year in other towns like Cape Town and East London


  • Lack of electricity in Soweto. In fact 86% of the houses never had electricity.
  • Lack of running water in water in Jonesburg and Soweto in particular
  • Poor healthy facilities. For example there existed only one hospital yet the population was increasing.

  • High levels of unemployment due to the growing population.
  • Lack of suitable entertainment centres for example there existed only one cinema whole which was ever full
  • The blacks had been pushed away from the bright lights of Johannesburg because only whites were to the town in the night.
  • The role of Steve Biko who incited students to strike.
  • The high instability in Soweto at night characterized by hooliganism, robbery and murder. This was because the streets of Soweto had no lights.
  • The introduction of compulsory teaching in Afrikaans in the African school. The African students could not understand the language and the subjects taught.
  • The proposed increase in taxes also made the Africa in Soweto to stage a struggle.
  • The widening cap between Africans and blacks in education opportunities.

  • The role of other African nationalists like Mandela and Sobukwe
  • Making English a second language to Bantu languages in schools
  • Failure of peaceful resistance against the apartheid policies.
  • The defeat of white racist regime in Anglo MPLA in January 1976.
  • The un fare education system
  • The pass system limited the movements of Africans.
  • Discouragement of higher education for Africans
  • Need for the political independence of Africans.
  • High level of poverty among Africans.