The second day... was marked by uncontrollable fury and burning hostility...Police also assumed another attitude. They shot at random, and at anyone who would raise a fist and shout "Power", into their face

Many others joined the original protesters. Not everyone had heard about Hector Petersen and the others who were killed yet, but the word was spreading.

The following day I pick up stones. I joined the struggle....On the 16th I just came home and stay...because we formed the slogan "an injury to one is an injury to all" So we were supposed to be there.

- Solomon Marikele Rhulane Senior Primary

The heavily biased Cilliers Report for this day sums up the events. Schools, trains, buses, delivery vehicles, West Rand Administrative Buildings (WRAB) buildings, cars of business people, all were targeted. The fury and frustration that had been simmering amongst township youth had free reign. There was enormous police presence on the morning of the 17th 1500 police armed with sten guns, automatic rifles, and hand machine carbines had taken up strategic positions in the township. Helicopters flew overhead. The army was on standby. The police force had never developed other methods of crowd control other than the use of live bullets. The police shot at people indiscriminately and casualties were even higher than the day before.

The violent reaction of the police only made the children angrier.

At a press conference Mr. Manie Mulder announced that nearly all the WRAB buildings in Soweto had been destroyed. This amounted to 21 offices being burnt down, 10 being plundered, 3 schools burnt as well as unknown numbers of municipal halls, beerhalls, bottlestores.

The Rand had lost value overnight. Thousands of workers had refused to go to work. It was indeed a crisis for the Apartheid government. It was also a serious loss of face in light of US Secretary of State, Henry Kissingers impending visit to South Africa.

Demonstartion during Henry Kissinger's visit... Kiss-inja (a dog) Soweto, September, 1976

To add to this, 300 predominantly white Wits students marched through the city centre to protest the killing of schoolchildren. As they marched through the streets they were joined by many black workers.

At this point the political leadership of the Soweto Students Representative Council (SSRC), SASM and other organisations were desperately trying to take leadership of the protest and to channel the anger of the youth and to give the movement political direction. The ANC in exile called for immediate international action and the intensification of economic sanctions. The protest action also spread to other townships around Soweto. In Thembisa, students organised a solidarity march, which, although heavily guarded did not result in violence. In Kagiso, police tried to stop a gathering of students and adults; the result was a forced retreat and the destruction of WRAB buildings, vehicles and schools. When the police returned with reinforcements, they shot indiscriminately into the crowd, killing at least five people.

Collections in the Archives