The Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, situated in Orlando West, Soweto. Picture: Matthews Baloyi
The June 16 1976 Uprising that began in Soweto and spread countrywide profoundly changed the socio-political landscape in South Africa. Here's how events unfolded:

January 5

The Meadowlands Tswana School Board meets with the local inspector of the Bantu Education Department to discuss the conflict escalating in Soweto schools since the beginning of the year.

February 24

The first indications of protest over schooling in Afrikaans appear in Soweto schools.

March 4

The Black People’s Convention, the South African Students Organisation and the South African Students Movement become active in Soweto schools over teaching in Afrikaans.

April 30

Pupils at Orlando West Junior School go on strike over teaching in Afrikaans.

May 12

A female teacher is attacked by two robbers on her way to school and is saved by more than 100 pupils from Orlando North Secondary School, who beat the robbers to death. In another incident in May, a pupil stabs a teacher at Pimville. Police try to arrest the pupils but are stoned by other pupils.

May 16

Pupils at Phefeni Secondary School start boycotting classes in protest against the use of Afrikaans in education. The unrest spreads to Belle Higher Primary School, Thulasizwe Higher Primary School, and Emthonjeni Khulo Ngolawazi Higher Primary School.

May 17

Pupils at Orlando West Junior School strike in protest at the dismissal of a member of the school board. They pelt the principal’s office with stones and draw up a memorandum of grievances, which they hand to the principal.

May 24

Pupils reject a call by the Orlando Diepkloof School board to return to school. The strike spreads to Pimville Higher Primary School. The SA Students Movement makes an attempt to consolidate the situation and holds a conference in Roodepoort to discusses the campaign against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

June 8

Security police arrive at Naledi High School and attempt to arrest the leader of the local branch of the SA Students Movement. Pupils stone the police and set their car alight.

June 11

The recently appointed deputy minister of “Bantu education”, Andries Treurnicht, rejects the applications by five Soweto schools to depart from the so-called 50-50 policy in secondary education, which entailed equal use of English and Afrikaans in schooling.

June 13

The Naledi branch of the SA Students Movement holds a meeting, attended by representatives of all Soweto schools, at which it is decided that protests will be held on June 16 against the use of Afrikaans in education.

An action committee called the Soweto Students’ Representative Council is formed to organise the demonstration, with two representatives from each school.

June 16

The Soweto uprising takes place on the day that the Internal Security Amendment Act comes into operation. It is exam time for senior pupils, and the exams must be written in Afrikaans.

A march starts and pupils from many schools along the way join in. Teargas is fired. Gunshots are fired at the pupils and pandemonium breaks out. Police cars are set alight. Fires blaze throughout the night. At least 200 people are killed.

The Internal Security Amendment Act, which replaced the Suppression of Communism Act, gives the minister of justice enhanced powers to declare organisations unlawful, to prohibit publications, to prohibit attendance at gatherings, to restrict persons to certain areas and to detain persons and witnesses.

June 17

The second day of the protest. Fires rage in townships throughout the country. Pupils stone cars passing through Soweto. Police shoot at random. Workers down tools.

June 18

A general stayaway is organised.

June 19

The Government Gazette announces that 123 people have been banned as a result of the June 16 uprising. The minister of police imposes a nationwide prohibition on the holding of meetings, which is later extended to the end of the year.

December 31

Then prime minister BJ Vorster says: “The storm has not struck yet. We are only experiencing the whirlwinds that go before it.”

* SAhistory.org.za