South African History Today – April 15


South Africa has a rich and diverse history that can be traced back to ancient times. April 15 stands as another thread woven into this remarkable tapestry. Let us explore the layers of South African history, delving into the past and unravelling the narratives that left their mark on this extraordinary land.

April 15

2000: The first victim of the land invasions in Zimbabwe, David Stevens, is murdered

A White farmer, Davis Stevens, was shot dead in Zimbabwe by squatters occupying his land. He was the first White farmer to be killed in the on-going land confrontations involving so-called “war veterans” backed by President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party. Stevens was taken from his property 75 miles (120 kilometres) east of the capital, Harare, and driven into the bush. It was alleged that Stevens was targeted due to his support for the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC). Five other farmers who tried to help Stevens were also abducted – they were later released badly beaten. One of them, John Osborne, witnessed Stevens’ murder.

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1992: Sanctions are applied on Libya over Lockerbie bombing

Governments worldwide applied UN sanctions against Libya for alleged involvement in destruction of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie and a French plane over Niger. Some OAU countries ignored some UN sanctions, including flight ban. President of Niger and President Mubarak of Egypt flew to Libya despite the ban.

1978: Athlete Mathews Motshwareteu enters the annals of the country’s athletic history after only five weeks of track athletics

Mathews Motshwareteu was a talented athlete born in Soweto, Johannesburg on November 2, 1958. He broke the national 5,000m record at the Coetzenburg Stadium in Stellenbosch on April 15, 1978. He was known for his peculiar way of running that earned him the nickname “Loop-en-Val.” Unfortunately, he suffered a hamstring injury at the age of 40, which ended his running career. He later worked as a second-hand car dealer until he was tragically shot dead during a robbery in 2002.

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1978: Matthews Motshwarateu breaks the national 5,000m record after being allowed into the racially exclusive SA Amateur Athletics Union

Matthews Motshwarateu, the first black athlete admitted into the SA Amateur Athletics Union, sets a new national 5,000m record in Stellenbosch, making history in South African athletics.

1954: Walter Sisulu acts against Sophiatown forced removals

Walter Sisulu, an ANC member, defied forced removal of Blacks in Whites-only areas by acting as a speaker at a meeting held in Sophiatown, Johannesburg. He encouraged Blacks to resist removal from the Western areas, which were being segregated.

1950: Taliep Petersen was born

A renowned theatre personality was born on this day in District Six. He produced and directed famous musicals such as District Six, Kat and the Kings and Ghoema.

1922: Canadians, Frederick Banting and J.J.R. Macleod discover insulin, saving the lives of many diabetics

Insulin is a peptide hormone used to treat diabetes. It was discovered by Frederick Banting and J.J.R Macleod in 1922. This discovery meant that diabetes sufferers could take a daily treatment that would help them lead a normal life. Banting and Macleod were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work.

1912: The first weather forecast for the Union is issued

The Union Weather Service issued the first national weather forecast for South Africa on 1 April 1912. The service was moved to Pretoria in 1926 and played a vital role in the Second International Polar Year Project (1932-1933).



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