Source F says that there were no more than 4000 people in the crowds and this cannot be backed up or proved wrong by other sources which just mention many people being there - that could mean 4000 or 10000 people. Source F also says that the crowd did not have any weapons at all ‘not even sticks’ it says. Source E says that the police claimed that they were ‘in danger because the crowd was stoning them’ but Tyler also says that he saw no weapons. This suggests that the source could be reliable. Source F says that the firing of weapons was simultaneous, but Source E says that the machine guns went off separately or at least not exactly at the same time. This shows that the source may not be completely reliable. Both Sources F and E do agree on the fact that there was no warning from the police before the gun fire and this increases the chances of the Source being reliable as evidence. Source G is a photo of the events of the shooting and it shows people on their fronts apparently shot, this is mentioned in Source F that most of the people were shot in the back which suggests that they were running away and defenceless. The Source says the crowd were ‘good natured’ and this is backed up by Source A which comments on the calm and friendly atmosphere of the crowd: ‘It was like a Sunday outing’ and people were grinning and cheering’. The Source also says that the witnesses could not have talked together before giving their statements. This means that they could not have got together to manufacture a story that could be made believable. This heightens the chances that the source is reliable as evidence and can be trusted. Source B does not mention the amount of people in the crowds but it does mention the violence towards the police cars; ‘A motor car... Emerged as a wreck’. This disagrees with Source F which says that the crowd were ‘good natured’ so the Source may not be completely reliable. Photograph sources C and D could support the reliability of F because there does not appear to be much protest and the crowd appears to be mostly ‘good natured’ as described in F.
It could be said that G is the more useful Source because it is a photo and it is said that the camera never lies and that it will always show the truth. However Source E it taken from an eye witness account, so it could also be said that it could be the truth. I think that the chances are that an eye witness account is less useful than a photo because an eye witness could have made up their story a lot more easily than altering or faking a camera picture. Both sources mention the people lying on their front and that they were shot in their backs. It could be said that Source E shows a more detailed and a first person account of what seemed to have happened at Sharpeville. Both Sources G and E seem to give the impression that no weapons were found around the bodies of the dead. I think that Source G is more useful because it is not really a person’s opinion it is just a photograph whereas the persons opinion could have been biased or he many have not been telling the truth.
South Africa is a nation with many different cultures and races. The South African authorities were white and were mainly descendants of the Dutch settlers, the Boers. There were also many black tribes in South Africa including the Bantu farmers, the Xhosa and the Khoisan. The British, Germans and French also had settled in South Africa in the 19th century and before. In the early 20th century (1910 onwards) the South African government started to become mainly made up of people from the Boer or white races. Up until 1948 there was a growing feeling among the white population that blacks and coloured people were inferior and should be controlled and many laws were passed that required blacks to give up land (1913 Land Act) or work for the whites. In 1948 Malan the newly elected President claimed that South Africa belonged to the Afrikaners (Boers) and he set up the apartheid state which restricted blacks even more. Blacks were made to carry passes and had to have different education. This created a great deal of hatred and on the whole the blacks and whites did not like each other. This created a sense that the blacks were inferior to the whites. As you can see from Source H the police commander had no remorse for the shootings at Sharpeville which shows the hatred and said ’They must learn their lessons the hard way’. Throughout the source the commander refers to blacks as ‘natives’. In the 18th century the Voortrekkers (Africaner travellers) invaded many tribal areas where they tried to take authority. The Prime Minister of South Africa in 1960 was Dr Verwoerd. In Source I you can see that he was quoting different figures to what has been seen in the other sources and says different things. ‘20000’ people were said to be there and ‘Telephone wires’ were supposedly cut. The numbers dead also seem to be adapted. The authorities did not seem to care about the welfare of the blacks. Source J also quotes the different figures and blames the blacks for what happened which shows that the authorities felt that they could use the blacks and not have any trouble.
In South Africa at the time of the Sharpeville incident the PAC and the ANC organisations had set up protests against the passes which the blacks had to keep. Source J would need to have been a very toned down account which took as much blame off the South African authorities as possible as it was released in London where there was a widespread feeling that apartheid should be banned. The statement even tried to change the subject and mentions something completely different to the events of Sharpeville which involves the death of some policemen by ‘an unarmed mob of natives’. Source J also differs because it says that the police were attacked first; ‘The demonstrators shots first’. Source H says that ‘they [blacks] must learn the hard way’. This is a very racist source and it seems that the policeman is proud and does not care about killing the blacks. The Source would have been given in the heat of the moment by the police chief who would still have been feeling the emotions of the events and so it is a very biased view without reflection. Source I says that 20000 people were in the crowd but other sources say that it was as little as 4000. Also the death and wounded toll is much lower than the other Sources written by people outside of the authorities. At the time in Africa there was much outrage around the world at the segregation rules were becoming tougher when most of the earth was starting to believe in equal rights. Countries such as Britain imposed sanctions on South Africa to try to make them stop using the system and in the end South Africa were expelled from the Commonwealth because they kept using the apartheid system. Sources from inside the South African government would want to show the outside world that the blacks could not be trusted and should be treated in the way they were - this could be why the South African Embassy in London describes the ‘unarmed mob’ of ’rioters’ killing nine policemen. Sources from outside the South African government may exaggerate their stories to be more shocking so that people would be persuaded into being against segregation.
‘The demonstrators were controlled and unarmed. The police opened fire on the crowd and continued to shoot as they turned and ran in fear. It was a massacre’. This quote is supported by Source A which does not give a hint of violence from the Africans but the police are described as being ready for violence. Source C also shows a happy and peaceful crowd from what can be seen. Source D does not seem to show any acts of violence from the Africans, just a peaceful protest. Source E backs up Nelson Mandela’s quote as it is said ‘I saw no weapons [on the Africans]... Afterwards I only saw shoes, hats and... Bodies’. Source F Says that the crowd was ‘not armed’ and mentions that nearly all those treated were ‘shot in the back’. This backs up the quote which suggests that the police were firing upon defenceless people and I think that this may well have been true because in 1960 there was a great deal of tension between the Africans and the authorities. Source G shows a photograph which once again suggests that many of the people were shot as they were running away as you can see many people lying on their backs. A weakness of this quote by Nelson Mandela is that it uses emotive language in the word ‘massacre’. This word is just an opinion as it could also have been seen as self defence as the second quote says. This first quote also says the crowd ‘ran in fear’ which is another opinion hoping to be emotional.
The second quote is from a book published in the apartheid state in 1988; ‘The police were under attack and opened fire’. This quote may be from a biased source because in ’88 South Africa was still using the apartheid system and blacks were still seen as inferior. Source B backs up this statement because it is said that ‘a car emerged as a wreck [from the crowd] and the people inside were injured.’ Source H mentions a police car being struck by a stone; ‘My car was struck by a stone... They must learn their lessons the hard way’. This backs up the claim that the police were provoked. Source I says that ‘police had to open fire’. Source J mentions that the ‘’police were forced to fire in self defence. However the last three sources come from people in the authorities who may be biased.
The first interpretation of events by Nelson Mandela seems to be the best supported by the sources because of the photographic evidence and many sources including a summary of people under oath was used. I think that the second interpretation is poorly backed up because they are mainly people in the South African authorities who may be biased against the Africans.
People disagree about the events at Sharpeville because there is no conclusive evidence to show what has happened and people would hear different information from different sources like the ones shown. If somebody had seen Source B they would probably have different views to somebody who had seen Source E. Also there is still some tension between the blacks and whites in South Africa and around the world so people may stick up for their racial group because they were so used to being separate for so long. Different Sources disagree about the basic fact such as how many people were at Sharpeville. It is also hard to tell what really happened because the sources could be biased. For example Dr. Verwoerd the South African Prime Minister would be likely to be biased against the blacks because after all he was encouraging the separation of blacks and whites. Also eyewitnesses at Sharpeville may be exaggerating the truth. It appears that sources A, C, E and F are all against the actions of the police that caused the events at Sharpeville, they all either show the supposedly happy and joyful crowd before the event or the dead and wounded after the event. The other sources, B, G, H and I appear to be supporting the idea that the police where acting in self defence at Sharpeville, these sources suggest that the South African police were provoked and had no other option but to fire on the crowd.