South African History Today – April 5

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As the sun rises on April 5, South Africa awakens to a new day and echoes its ever-evolving history. But what specific tales does this particular date whisper?  We embark on a journey to uncover the threads woven into the fabric of April 5 in South Africa.

April 5

1999: Mandela persuades Libya to hand over two suspects accused of placing a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103

Nelson Mandela convinced Libya to hand over suspects accused of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in Scotland, killing 270 people. Mandela’s diplomatic victory proved his moral stature. Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was jailed for life in 2001, while his co-accused, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted and returned to Libya.

  South African History Today - April 7

1990: Reconciliation talks between F.W de Klerk and Nelson Mandela are rescheduled due to violence in Sebokeng

On April 5, 1990, F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela agreed to reschedule talks for a new democratic constitution for South Africa. The talks were cancelled after police killed anti-apartheid demonstrators, but were later rescheduled for May 2-4. This meeting was significant as it was the first time de Klerk and Mandela had met since Mandela’s release from prison in February 1990.

1942: The HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire sink near Colombo

On 5 April 1942, the HMS Cornwall and HMS Dorsetshire were sunk by Japanese dive-bombers. The British light cruiser HMS Enterprise and destroyers Paladin and Panther rescued 1,120 men, including 86 South Africans. The HMS’s cruiser badge is still displayed on the Selbourne dry dock wall at Simonstown.

  South African History Today - March 14

1907: Hester Elizabeth Cornelius is born

Hester Elizabeth Cornelius, national organiser and branch secretary of the Garment Workers’ Union (GWU), was born in Lichtenburg, Transvaal. Hester played an important role in the defence of the union by organising cultural activities, which used Afrikaner symbols and experiences to convey class struggle.

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