Shell House massacre

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Shell House massacre
Part of South African general election, 1994
Date 28 March 1994
Location Shell House, Johannesburg
26°12′14″S 28°2′17″E / 26.20389°S 28.03806°E / -26.20389; 28.03806Coordinates: 26°12′14″S 28°2′17″E / 26.20389°S 28.03806°E / -26.20389; 28.03806
Result Amnesty granted to 11 people
Inkatha Freedom Party African National Congress
20,000-50,000[1] ?
Casualties and losses
19-53[2] dead 0 dead

The Shell House massacre refers to a 1994 shooting incident that took place at the headquarters of the African National Congress (ANC), in central Johannesburg, South Africa in the lead up to the 1994 elections.


Shell House (not to be confused with Luthuli House, where the ANC later relocated) at 1 Plein Street, Johannesburg, South Africa was the headquarters of the ANC after the organisation was unbanned until 1997. On 28 March 1994, about 20,000 Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) supporters marched to Shell House in protest against the 1994 elections that the IFP was intending to boycott.

ANC security guards opened fire, killing nineteen people.[3] At the time, guards claimed that the IFP supporters were storming the building, or that they had received a tip-off that this was planned. The Nugent Commission of Inquiry into the killings rejected this explanation. The commission's conclusion was that the shooting by ANC guards was unjustified.[citation needed]

This incident reflected the rising tensions between the ANC and IFP, which had begun in the 1980s in KwaZulu-Natal and had then spread to other provinces in the 1990s. The IFP claimed that the ANC was intent on undermining traditional authorities and the power of Zulu Chiefs; the ANC saw it as a power struggle as the demise of apartheid was finalised.[citation needed]


The incident triggered a state of emergency across eleven magisterial districts in the East Rand, as well as the whole of the Kwazulu-Natal province.[4]

In June 1995, ANC and then President Nelson Mandela claimed that he had given the order to defend Shell House, even if it should require killing people.[5] In 1995 Willem Ratte laid a charge of murder against president Nelson Mandela at the police headquarters in Pretoria[6] for the Shell House Massacre.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission granted amnesty to 11 people concerning the massacre.

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