Photographer who took iconic Hector Pieterson picture dies

June 16 lensman Sam Nzima dies

Nzima, 83, died Saturday night in a hospital in the northwestern city of Nelspruit, said his son, Thulani Nzima.

"We understand that he was also a public figure and not just a family man, so we will be sharing information with the public as and when it becomes available", he said.

"He captured history from the defiance campaign through to forced removals and the Soweto student uprisings", the president said. Altogether, 575 people were killed that day.

His photograph of a dying Hector Pieterson being carried away by a teary fellow student after security forces opened fire on black youngsters protesting in Soweto township on June 16, 1976, turned the world's attention to the brutality of the apartheid regime.

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Sam Nzima with an image of the iconic Hector Pieterson picture he took in 1976.

President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to the self-taught veteran photographer, who was placed under house arrest for 19 months after the image was published. Eventually, however, due to its lasting effect and influence, he became proud of it.

Ramaphosa described Nzima as one of a kind who used his camera to capture "the full brutality of apartheid oppression on the nation's psyche".

In 1998 Nzima won the copyright for the much reproduced photo.

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"Suddenly the world could no longer ignore apartheid", wrote Time. Pieterson's sister, Antoinette, whose grief is captured in the photo, has for many years been a guide at the museum.

The picture earned him a spot in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential photographs ever taken. The seeds of worldwide opposition that would eventually topple apartheid had been planted.

Nzima was honoured with the Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze in 2011.

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