“When people think of Gugulethu, they think about the killing of the Gugulethu Seven by the Apartheid Government in the 80s or they think about the murder of Amy Biehl. Gugulethu’s history holds much more than these two tragedies,” says Geoff Mamputa, Gugulethu resident and social activist.


Gugulethu is a township that lies on the Cape Flats about 18km south-east of Cape Town in the Western Cape. The word Gugulethu means “our pride” in Xhosa. The first galvanised iron shacks that went up Nyanga West, later known as Gugulethu, were built on the foundation of dispossession and the forced removals of black South Africans. The first two families from Windermere moved into the new camp on 19 December 1958 and many others followed. Well-knit communities from Kensington, Athlone, Retreat and Simons Town were displaced and sent to Gugulethu.

Gugulethu closely reflects South Africa’s political journey. A politicised youth stood up against the injustice of Bantu Education in 1976 and were met with the fist of nationalist police force, as teargas rained down, students were shot and killed. The liberation struggle reached a reached a boiling point in mid 80s. The eyes of the world turned to Gugulethu when seven young men between the ages 16 and 23 were ambushed shot and killed by the South African police. Labeled as terrorists by the Apartheid government they were hailed as struggle heroes by their community.     

Despite its shaky foundations a strong community of survivors were creating a new life in Gugulethu. Sport, community projects, arts and culture continued to thrive, despite the dysfunctional political climate. With progress came people. 60 years after its founding Gugulethu pays tribute to a strong and proud history.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.