Home PodcastAshraf Garda From Horror to Hope: Sharpeville Police Station Transformed into Symbol of Progress

From Horror to Hope: Sharpeville Police Station Transformed into Symbol of Progress

by Thaabit Kamaar
Photo by [TimesLive]

Transforming “Horror to Hope” is the resounding mantra of the Kitso Information and Development Centre in the old Sharpeville Police Station in South Johannesburg. This historic location once symbolised oppression, where dozens lost their lives, and countless others were injured while protesting against apartheid’s oppressive pass laws.

However, since the Kitso IDC took over the building in 2019, it has become a symbol of hope for the community. A place where people come to learn, grow, and share.

The manager of the Kitso IDC, Nicho Ntema, said “The people that came to protest against pass laws. It was a place where they said, arrest us so that this whole process can actually end, and we can have our freedom to move from wherever we want to. But that’s where the whole thing happened. That’s the horror we want to erase from our [mindset].”

From Horror to Hope

March 21 1960, marked a pivotal moment in South Africa’s history as thousands of brave individuals gathered in defiance around the police station. Today, this day is celebrated as Human Rights Day, a reminder of the courage and determination of those who fought for justice and equality.

The same police station was once used to imprison anti-apartheid protesters. Now it serves as a symbol of hope and progress, reminding us of the power of people when they come together for a noble cause.

Moreover, the centre serves as a safe space for the marginalised members of society, including troubled youth and victims of apartheid. Here, they can come together to learn valuable skills, share their stories, and pass on life lessons. Ntema, hopes to replace the horror of the past with hope for the future.

Ntema said, “Young people are coming here now to learn various skills from life skills to computer skills. We’ve got the candle making factory that we’re going to start in the next financial year. We’ve been building electric cargo bikes, where any other person who is interested in the pre-engineering stage of building something, they can have an opportunity to do that. We’ve got crafters within the yard that are sharing their skills with other young people. So, there are people that can actually do something with their hands and actually earn a living … [We’ve] transformed one of our boardrooms … So all those people who are victims of apartheid can actually have meetings with dignity in that particular space.”

In addition to the various programs, the centre also operates a vegetable garden that feeds 350 people in the community daily.

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What Impact Has the Centre Had on the Community?

The former police station has had a significant impact on the community, particularly on troubled youths of diverse backgrounds who come to the centre to deal with issues like drug addiction. They eventually become valuable contributors to society by attending the programs and developing their skills.

Ntema said, “We [evolve] around making people able to change their lives within the centre. So that when they go out they can actually be able to duplicate that and live better lives than they were before they came to [us].”

He emphasised the importance of educating youth about the country’s history, including the horrors of Sharpeville, so they can remember past heroes and learn from their lives and experiences to empower themselves in the future.

Watch the full discussion here.

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