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HomeNewsPeter Magubane, South African photographer who documented apartheid, dies aged 91

Peter Magubane, South African photographer who documented apartheid, dies aged 91

Peter Magubane, a Black South African photographer who documented the cruelties of white South African rule, and was made to pay for it, enduring beatings and 586 consecutive days in solitary confinement, died on Monday, January 1, aged 91.

Magubane reportedly produced images of many of South Africa’s turning points, including the shooting deaths of 69 unarmed demonstrators in Sharpeville in 1960, the Rivonia trial of Nelson Mandela and other leaders of the African National Congress in the early 1960s, and the uprising by high school students in Soweto in 1976.

Magubane gained prominence as one of the few Black photographers covering the repressive era after joining Drum magazine in 1955. One of his landmark images, taken a year later in a wealthy Johannesburg suburb, showed a white girl sitting on a bench with a sign reading “Europeans Only” while a Black worker sat behind her combing her hair.

In the 1990s, he was appointed as newly-released Mandela’s official photographer.

Born in 1932 in the Johannesburg suburb of Vrededorp – now Pageview – Magubane grew up in Sophiatown, once a hub to famous Black artists that was eventually destroyed under apartheid.

He died peacefully around midday, his daughter Fikile Magubane said. He would have turned 92 on January 18.

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