The Soweto Uprising claimed many lives and left many injured. The protest action was a response to the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction.
Black people did not want to be taught in Afrikaans because it was seen as the language of the oppressor. The government’s proposed plan was make pupils take half of their content subjects - like biology and mathematics - in Afrikaans and the other half in English. In 10 days of rioting, the official death toll was 174 black people and two whites. The number of wounded was 1 222 blacks and six whites. 1 298 were arrested for various offences. The original government figure claimed only 23 students were killed.
The aftermath of the uprising established the leading role of the ANC in the anti-apartheid struggle.
The clashes also occurred at a time when the South African Government was being forced to "transform" apartheid in international eyes. For the state the uprising marked the greatest challenge to economic and political instability.
Many white South Africans were outraged at the government's actions in Soweto and about 300 white students from the University of the Witwatersrand marched through Johannesburg's city centre to protest the killing of children. Black workers went on strike as well and joined them as the campaign progressed. Riots also broke out in the black townships of other cities in South Africa.
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