As many as 80,000 protesters gathered outside of Bisho, the capital city of Ciskei, and demanded an end to the military government of Brigadier Joshua Gqozo and the re-absorption of the so-called black homeland into South Africa. The protest was led by several senior African National Congress (ANC) leaders, including South African Communist Party Secretary General Chris Hani, Cyril Ramaphosa, Steve Tshwete and Ronnie Kasrils.
The event, now known as the Bisho Massacre, occurred when the demonstrators tried to cross the Ciskei Defence Force lines and enter into Bisho. Soldiers then opened fire and continued firing indiscriminately into the crowd for about five minutes using machine guns and rifle grenades. Reportedly, several young men were shot in the back as they fled. According to ANC officials, no warning was issued, and no attempts were made to use non-lethal means to disperse demonstrators.