South Africa marks 40th anniversary of Steve Biko's death

South African leaders are marking the 40th anniversary of the death of Steve Biko, the anti-apartheid activist and black consciousness leader who died in police custody after being severely beaten.

Leading politicians on Tuesday hailed Biko as a symbol of the fight against racial oppression in South Africa, which at the time of Biko's 1977 killing was under white minority rule. President Jacob Zuma is laying a wreath in honor of Biko at the Pretoria prison where he died.

The death of 30-year-old Biko ignited international outrage and inspired a hit song by musician Peter Gabriel. Actor Denzel Washington starred as Biko in the 1987 film "Cry Freedom."

Biko, who advocated black self-reliance, was not a member of the African National Congress, the main anti-apartheid movement and current ruling party.