List of massacres in South Africa

The following is a list of massacres that have occurred in South Africa (numbers may be approximate):

Name Date Location Casualties Notes
The Mfecane / Difaqane 1818–1828 Highveld and Natal south of the Tugela 1 million – 2.5 million black Africans The mfecane / difaqane was a period of mass migration and warfare caused by the political changes that occurred during the reign of King Shaka.[1]
The Janse van Rensburg Trek massacre 1836 Inhambane (Djinjispruit, Limpoporiver, Mozambique)[2] 49 Voortrekkers The massacre was ordered by Manukosi, a chieftain. Johannes Jacobus Janse (Lang Hans) van Rensburg, leader of one of the early Voortrekker treks and his entire trek, except two children saved by a Zulu warrior, were massacred by an impi of Manukosi.[3] Included in the party was Nicholaas Balthasar Prinsloo, who was a Slagtersnek rebel, his wife, Petronella Maria Krugel/Kruger and their family.[4][2]
Piet Retief Delegation massacre 1838-02-06 Hloma mabuto, uMgungundlovu, Natal also known as kwaMatiwane Hill 100 Boers and servants The massacre was ordered by Dingane, a Zulu chieftain. The place, at kwaMatiwane Hill, was a site where Dingane had thousands of other enemies executed. Voortrekker leader Piet Retief was killed last. The treaty handing over a tract of land to the Voortrekkers signed between Dingane and Piet Retief two days before the massacre was later found on Retief's remains. A copy of the original still exists. The treaty led to the establishment of the Natalia Republic in 1838 which stretched from the Tugela River to present day Port St. Johns.
Weenen massacre 1838-02-17 Doringkop, Bloukrans River, Moordspruit, Rensburgspruit and other sites around present day Weenen, KwaZulu-Natal 532 (282 Boer men, woman and children, and 250 Khoikhoi and Basuto)[5][6][7] Amongst those killed were Joachim Johannes Prinsloo, b3c3d6e1, ≈ 30/3/1783 (Acquitted Slagtersnek rebel)[8] and his wife Martha Louisa Prinsloo, b3c3d4e5.[8] The Piet Retief Massacre and the Weenen Massacre was the motivation for the Voortrekkers to confront the Zulus in battle on 16 December 1838 when 470 Voortrekkers fought against an estimated 15,000 to 21,000 Zulus; which the Voortrekkers won. The battle is known as the Battle of Blood River.
Derdepoort massacre[9] 1899-11-25[10] Derdepoort, North-West, Transvaal[10] 2 Boer woman were killed, and 17 woman and children taken captive[10] On 25 November 1899 some of the Bechuanaland Kgatla, under Lentshwe and in alliance with the British under Colonel G. L. Holdsworth, attacked a Boer laager on the Bechuanaland border of the Transvaal. Two women were killed, and 17 women and children taken captive.[10]
Leliefontein massacre 1902-01-31 Northern Cape, South Africa 35 35 Khoikhoi executed by Boer forces under Manie Maritz as reprisal for an attack on his troops by pro-British locals.
Bulhoek massacre 1921-05-24 Ntabelanga, Queenstown, Eastern Cape 163 Enoch Mgijima led the gathering to defend their land against a Union of South Africa police force led by Colonel Johan Davey and General Koos van der Venter.
Rand Rebellion 1922-03-08 to


Johannesburg, Transvaal 153 The rebellion started as a strike by white mineworkers on 28 December 1921 and shortly thereafter, it became an open rebellion against the state. Subsequently, the workers, who had armed themselves, took over the cities of Benoni and Brakpan, and the Johannesburg suburbs of Fordsburg and Jeppe. Several communists and syndicalists, the latter including the strike leaders Percy Fisher and Harry Spendiff, were killed as the rebellion was quelled by state forces.[11] The rebellion was eventually crushed by "considerable military firepower and at the cost of over 200 lives".[12]
Durban Riot 1949-01-13 to


Durban 142 The Durban riot was an anti-Indian riot predominantly by Zulus targeting Indians in Durban, South Africa in January 1949. The riot resulted in the massacre of mostly poor Indians. In total 142 people died in the riot and another 1,087 people were injured. It also led to the destruction of 58 shops, 247 dwellings and one factory.[13]
Mayibuye Uprising 1952-11-08 Galeshewe, Kimberley 13 78 wounded. The Mayibuye Uprising was a sequence of protests and demonstrations, led by the ANC, South African Indian Congress and the African People's Organisation that took place around No.2 Location Galeshewe, in Kimberley, on 7–8 November 1952.
Sharpeville massacre 1960-03-21 Sharpeville 69 180 wounded[14]
Soweto uprising 1976-06-16 Soweto 176
Church Street bombing 1983-05-20 Outside Nedbank Plein, Church Street West, Pretoria, Transvaal at 16:28 19 217 wounded. The attack was carried out by a special task force of the ANC's Umkhonto we Sizwe led by Aboobaker Ismail. These units were approved by Oliver Tambo, ANC president, in 1979. At the time of the attack they reported to Joe Slovo, head of personnel. Tambo approved and gave permission for the operation.[15]
Durban car bomb 1984-04-03 Durban. Close to the offices of the South African Indian Council. 5 27 wounded.
Landmines planted on farm roads 1985 to 1987 On farm roads across South Africa. 23–25[16] At least 150 landmines were planted by Umkhonto we Sizwe.
Trojan Horse Incident 1985-10-15 Belgravia Road, Athlone, Cape Town 3 killed
Langa massacre 1985-03-21 Uitenhage, Eastern Cape 35 killed The South African Police shot at a crowd of funeral-goers stopped by them on Maduna Road in Uitenhage, on the anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre. The first shot was at a 15-year-old boy on a bicycle who joined the crowd from a side street and lifted his hand in a Black Power salute
Duncan Village Massacre 1985-08-11 Duncan Village, East London, Eastern Cape 19 killed 138 wounded.
Queenstown Massacre 1985-11-17 Queenstown, Eastern Cape 14 killed 22 wounded.
Amanzimtoti bombing 1985-12-23 Amanzimtoti 5 civilians, including 3 children Forty were injured when MK cadre Andrew Sibusiso Zondo detonated an explosive in a rubbish bin at a shopping centre. In a submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the ANC stated that Zondo's act, though "understandable" as a response to a recent South African Defence Force raid in Lesotho, was not in line with ANC policy. Zondo was subsequently executed.
Magoo's Bar bomb. Durban beach-front bombing 1986-06-14 Durban 3 killed 69 wounded. An uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) cell, led by Robert McBride, planted a bomb in a car outside the popular "Why Not Magoo's Bar", with the belief that the place was frequented by security branch police.[17]
Johannesburg Magistrate's Court bombing 1987-05-20 Johannesburg, Transvaal 3 killed, 4 injured Limpet mine attack, then car bomb attack half an hour later.
Strijdom Square massacre 1988-11-5 Pretoria, Transvaal 8 killed, 16 injured Barend Strydom, acting alone, went on a shooting spree in the Pretoria city center. He specifically targeted black persons. He was disarmed by a black member of the public whilst reloading.
Trust Feed massacre 1988-12-3 Trust Feed, Natal 11 Captain Brian Mitchell ordered South African Police officers to shoot and kill a group of people, thought to be United Democratic Front supporters, attending a funeral vigil. The victims were in fact Inkatha supporters.[18]
Bisho massacre 1992-09-07 Bisho, Ciskei 29 Twenty-eight African National Congress supporters and one soldier were shot dead by the Ciskei Defence Force during a protest march when they attempted to enter Bisho (now renamed to Bhisho) to demand the reincorporation of Ciskei into South Africa during the final years of apartheid.
Boipatong massacre 1992-06-17 Boipatong 45 The attack on township residents was carried out by armed men from the steelworks residence KwaMadala Hostel, which was located roughly 1 km from the township. Forty-five people died and several other people were maimed. The attackers were supporters of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a rival party of the African National Congress (ANC).
Saint James Church massacre 1993-07-25 Kenilworth, Cape Town 11 The Saint James Church massacre was a massacre that was perpetrated by four terrorists of the Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA). Eleven members of the congregation were killed and an additional 58 members were wounded.
Heidelberg Tavern massacre 1993-12-30 Observatory, Cape Town 4 During the years of apartheid, Observatory was one of the few de facto 'grey' suburbs where all races lived together. On the evening of 30 December 1993, three men entered a popular student venue on Station Road, called the Heidelberg Tavern and opened fire, killing four people and injuring five. The three APLA operatives—Humphrey Luyanda Gqomfa, Vuyisile Brian Madasi and Zola Prince Mabala—were convicted in November 1994[19] for what became known as the Heidelberg Massacre.
Shell House massacre 1994-03-28 Johannesburg 19–53 ANC security guards opened fire, killing nineteen people. Twenty thousand Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) supporters marched to Shell House in protest against the 1994 elections that the IFP was intending to boycott.
Bree Street taxi rank bombing 1994-04-24 Johannesburg 21 killed. over 100 injured A car bomb was placed at a busy public transport hub in the Johannesburg city centre by members of the AWB[20][21]
Germiston taxi rank bombing 1994-04-25 Germiston 10 killed, 8 injured A pipe bomb was placed inside a trailer and driven to the taxi rank in Germiston and was detonated at around 10am in the morning by members of the AWB[22]
Sizzlers massacre 2003-01-20 Sea Point, Cape Town 9, 1 injured The victims were murdered at a gay massage parlour on Graham Road by Adam Roy Woest and Trevor Basil Theys.
Marikana massacre 2012-08-16 Lonmin Mine, Marikana 34-47 The Marikana massacre was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since 1960. The shootings have been described as a massacre in the South African media and have been compared to the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. Controversy emerged after it was discovered that most of the victims were shot in the back, and many victims were shot far from police lines.
Life Esidimeni deaths 2015 - 2016[23] Gauteng 144 to date;[24][25] 62 still not accounted for.[26] Eight still missing as of 11 March 2020.[27] 1,300 psychiatric patients were relocated from Life Esidimeni centres to mainly unlicensed NGOs by order of the Gauteng Department of Health.[28][29]
Gugulethu massacre 2020-11-2 Gugulethu, Cape Town Seven of the nine victims died on scene (3 women and 4 men) whilst an eight victim died later in hospital. The Gugulethu massacre was a mass shooting which occurred on the afternoon.

To date the Mfecane massacre with 1 to 1.5 million bantu killed over a ten-year period by order of Shaka, the Zulu chief, is the massacre with the highest number of fatalities in South Africa.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ransford, Oliver. The Great Trek. John Murray. Great Britain. 1972. p. 26, ISBN 978-0719526251
  2. ^ a b Visagie, Jan C., Voortrekkerstamouers 1835 - 1845. Protea Boekhuis. Pretoria. 2011. Page 406
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Nicolaas Balthasaar Prinsloo, b3c3d5e8". Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  5. ^ Theal, George McCall (1886). Boers and Bantu: a history of the wanderings and wars of the emigrant farmers from their leaving the Cape Colony to the overthrow of Dingan. Cape Town: Saul Solomon. p. 106.
  6. ^ Van der Hoogt, Cornelius W; White, Montagu (1900). "The founding of Natal". The story of the Boers : narrated by their own leaders: prepared under the authority of the South African Republics. New York: Bradley. p. 86. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  7. ^ Johnston, Harry Hamilton (1910). Britain across the seas: Africa; a history and description of the British Empire in Africa. London: National Society's Depository. pp. 111.
  8. ^ a b Visagie, Jan C., Voortrekkerstamouers 1835 - 1845. Protea Boekhuis, Pretoria, 2011. ISBN 978-1-86919-372-0. Page 401.
  9. ^ Van Heyningen, Elizabeth., The Concentration Camps of the Anglo-Boer War, A Social History. Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd. Auckland Park, Johannesburg. 2013. Page 112 - 113
  10. ^ a b c d Van Heyningen, Elizabeth., The Concentration Camps of the Anglo-Boer War, A Social History. Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd. Auckland Park, Johannesburg. 2013. Page 112 - 113
  11. ^ V.I. Lenin. "Lenin: 703. TO G. Y. ZINOVIEV".
  12. ^ Butler, A. 2004. Contemporary South Africa. Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan
  13. ^ "The Durban riots, 1949". South African History Online. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  14. ^ Ngcobo, Ziyanda. "Zuma: We must never forget Sharpeville". Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  15. ^ "AC/2001/003 - application in terms of section 18 of the promotion of national unity and reconciliation act, No.34 of 1995". Truth and Reconciliation Commission - Amnesty Committee. 16 January 2000. Archived from the original on 26 February 2003. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  16. ^ "VOLUME TWO: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report" (PDF). 29 October 1998.
  17. ^ "Magoo's Bar is bombed". 16 March 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  18. ^ Kraft, Scott (1 May 1992). "Policeman Sentenced to Die for Massacre Order". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ "Heidelberg massacre: Story of reconciliation". 15 December 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  20. ^ Drogin, Bob (25 April 1994). "Violence: Attack near ANC offices in Johannesburg is worst of campaign. Speculation centers on right wing". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  21. ^ "Trial of the Bloody Bunglers". 3 March 1995. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  22. ^ "Germiston pre-election bomb". Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  23. ^ "Life Esidimeni inquest to begin in July". Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Life Esidimeni death toll rises again". Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  25. ^ "Another Esidimeni death recorded". Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  26. ^ "Life Esidimeni: 62 still missing, says DA". Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  27. ^ "Agt Esidimeni-pasiënte steeds vermis". 11 March 2020.
  28. ^ "Life Esidimeni deaths now above 100, will rise - health ombud". Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  29. ^ "Solidariteit Helpende Hand en Afriforum se privaatvervolgingseenheid staan familie van Life Esidimeni slagoffer by tydens GDO". Retrieved 26 July 2021.