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On March 21, 1960, more than 69 Africans who were peacefully protesting against apartheid laws were shot dead at Sharpeville by the South African Police. The international community was shocked at the level of brutality shown by the South African government, and in the aftermath of this incident, international investors withdrew funds, South Africa was asked to leave the British Commonwealth, and the South African government instituted harsh laws against protesters and outlawed all African political organizations.

The Protest and Shootings

The Africans who assembled around the police station in Sharpeville, an African township outside the industrial city of Vereeniging, were there to protest South Africa’s discriminatory apartheid laws. In particular, under the Group Areas Act, Africans were restricted to certain proscribed areas and were required to ...

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