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Soweto’s history began as a group of townships slowly grew into a city. In 1904, Klipspruit, which ws the oldest cluster of townships that make up Soweto was established. The city was originally meant to house mine workers for a short period of time. However, the population continued to grow and by 1923, it was transformed into a ghetto for the black population of Johannesburg and remained this way throughout the times of the apartheid. The inner city was later reserved for the white occupation during this time of segregation. In the 1950s, more black people were transferred from Johannesburg to Soweto. However, officially, it was not until 1963, after a 4-year public competion, that the word ‘Soweto’ was appropriated for the growing sprawl of towns. The grand but grisly fight against South Africa’s apartheid was infamously fought in Soweto. In June 16 of 1976, there were violent riots throughout the country that began in Soweto when a group of black children began to protest against the language, Afrikaans being instructed in African schools, alongside English. Throughout the riot, police decided to teargas the crowd. At this point, all the rioters began to panic and throw stones and within instants, there was gun-fire rattling throughout the crowd. All the blood and innocent deaths were caught in international photos, and the day has been remembered throughout history as the Soweto massacre. Today, June 16
is honored as a national holiday called Youth day.
After the riots, the Urban Areas Act was passed that was intended to better the facilities and infrastructure of the area.
However, the area continued to suffer from discriminatory laws by the government as well as
simply mis-run finances; it continued after the riots to be a
squatting ground for illegal immigrants.