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Sharpeville - massacre or self defence

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Introduction

Do these sources prove that the South African Police force was justified and acting in self defence at Sharpeville? The events that happened at Sharpeville are, and probably will always be, undecided. We know that the South African Police shot the crowd, but we aren't sure whether it was justified and acting in self defence. Source C and H both back up this statement. Source C claims that the blacks attacked the police with weapons first including firearms and stoning. The statement was from the South African Embassy so they were backing up governemnt. Although they should be reliable and it was written at the time, they were not there at the scene. Source H also claims that the crowd were violent as "a crowd of several hundred Africans this afternoon began stoning the police armoured cars". But it also says that it was "after the shooting in the morning, in which one African was killed and another seriously wounded" which means it was after the incident so not actually relating to the incident. ...read more.

Middle

Since this is a photograph it captures a moment in time which shows that it did happen, but this only shows what the photographer wants to show. But know from knowledge that blacks were shot in the back. Source D also disagrees with the statement by saying that they were shot in the back - meaning they were running away, not fighting. Since this only states facts (no emotion or opinion) it could make the statement more reliable, but it wasn't written at the time and also his book 'against the world' might suggest that he was against the whites and therefore biased. It cross references with knowledge and source B that people were shot in the back. Source E is also against and clearly shows throughout the extract that the crowd weren't violent - "it was not a hostile crowd". Reeves was white and part of the Anglican Church, which was very anti-apartheid. ...read more.

Conclusion

His writing doesn't appear to be totally against the whites as he doesn't really put the blame completely on the Police force - "Later, Colenel Pienaar satted that he thought his order would frighten the crowd and that his men would uderstand that if they had to fire they would not fire more than five rounds" He also suggests that the police only followed suit to other policemen when firing. In conclusion, sources C, H and I agree with the statement that the police were acting in self defence, although none of them are very reliable as they all seemed prejudiced towards whites, although the same goes for sources B, D and E which disagreed with the statement as they seemed more for the blacks. This shows that we will probably not know if the police force were justified for attacking as the two sides of the argument are splitted in two too subjectively for there to be a definate answer. ...read more.

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