South Africa has lost another giant!

Sam Nzima - June 16th, 1976 photo

#SamNzima is better known as the man behind the famous photo of Hector Pieterson on the 16th June 1976.

The photograph of Hector Pieterson was published widely‚ and it helped to force the world to take notice and act against a government which was prepared to kill even children so that it could continue enforcing its oppressive policies of racial discrimination and oppression in South Africa.

Nzima died at the age of 83 in a Nelspruit hospital in Mpumalanga on Saturday evening‚ as reported on TimesLIVE.


Sam Nzima was born in the small town of Lillydale in Mpumalanga (Bushbuckridge) on the 8th August 1934. He was the South African photographer who took what became the well known image of Hector Pieterson for the Soweto Uprising, but struggled for years to get the copyright.

His father worked as a labourer for a white farmer. Sam Nzima first became interested in photography when a teacher of his had shown him his camera and how to use it. While still at school, Sam bought a camera and began taking pictures in the Kruger National Park. When the farmer pressed Nzima into farm labour, he ran away after nine months of working at the farm to Johannesburg. He found a job as a gardener in Henningham.

In 1956, Nzima found work as a waiter at the Savoy Hotel. At the hotel a photographer named Patrick Rikhotso taught him photography skills. Nzima took portraits of workers. While at the Chelsea Hotel, Nzima started reading The Rand Daily Mail newspaper. When reading the articles of Allister Sparks, Sam became very interested in photojournalism.

Below is Twitter’s reactions to the legendary photographer – Sam Nzima:











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