South African History Today – March 27


As the sun rises on March 27, 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 March 27 in South Africa.

March 27

2010: South African Library Week holds from 22 – 27 March 2010 to promote the value of libraries

In 1997, the Library and Information Association of South Africa was formed to promote libraries and instill a reading culture. In 2001, they initiated National Library Week, later renamed South African Library Week, coinciding with the establishment of the National Library of South Africa on 20 March 1818, to market library services and promote reading.

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1995: Winnie Mandela is dismissed from government

Nelson Mandela expelled Winnie Mandela from the position of deputy minister of Arts, Culture, Science, and Technology. The decision was supported by parliamentary parties, the ANC, COSATU, and the ANC Youth League. Nelson Mandela hinted that Winnie should review her position and improve her conduct in a position of responsibility.

1994: South Africa is readmitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC)

In 1992, South Africa was readmitted to the Olympics after being banned since 1970. The International Olympic Committee set certain conditions, including ending apartheid laws, unifying sports bodies, and normalizing relations with other African sports bodies.

1985: A school bus with seventy-six learners plunges into the Westdene dam, killing forty-two

In the second worst bus accident in South African history, a double decker school bus with seventy-six learners of Hoërskool Vorentoe plunged into the Westdene Dam .The children were on their way to their homes when the driver blacked out as he was driving along the wall of the Westdene Dam. The bus then swerved through the barrier and plunged into the dam. Residents, teachers and other pupils risked their lives to try and save the children, however, 42 of them died. It took police several hours to recover the bodies of the deceased children. The bus driver survived and was exonerated in the subsequent inquiry. Most of the children who died were buried at Westpark Cemetery.

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1985: Beyers Naudé and Allan Boesak arrested for leading a protest march

Beyers Naudé, Allan Boesak and 200 others are arrested for leading a march through the city of Cape Town to Pollsmoor Prison. They were protesting for the release of Nelson Mandela. The charges were subsequently dropped, but the South African police kept the two men under surveillance.

1975: Government’s final consolidation of ‘homelands’

The Nationalist Party government planned to reduce the number of ‘homeland’ areas from 113 to 36. The homelands were created in the 1950s to segregate black South Africans and deprive them of their citizenship. The government claimed it was for self-governance, but in reality, it led to poverty and exploitation.

1968: Separate Representation of Voters Amendment Act No 50 of 1968 is enacted

The Coloured Persons Representative Council was a legislative body with elected and nominated members that had the power to make laws affecting Coloured people on various issues. Bills required approval from the Minister of Coloured Relations and the ‘White’ Cabinet. It was established in 1968 and repealed in 1983.

1960: Johannes Kerkorrel, Afrikaans singer and songwriter, is born in Johannesburg

Johannes Kerkorrel, talented Afrikaner musician and groundbreaking songwriter born in Johannesburg, on March 27, 1960. He started singing in the late 1980s while working for the conservative Afrikaner newspaper Rapport. He was later fired from the newspaper because of his political activism. Kerkorrel’s music was overtly critical of the apartheid government, and, as a result, his albums were banned, including Eet Kreef. On November 12, 2002, he committed suicide. His birth name was Ralph John Rabie. A film about his life, titled ‘Who Killed Johannes Kerkorrel’ was released in 2011.

1960: Pass laws are suspended in South Africa

The South African Commissioner of Police suspended the pass laws, which restricted the movements of African people. This was due to the anti-pass campaign that resulted in the Sharpeville Massacre. The pass laws were suspended until normality had been restored because the jails could no longer accommodate the many Africans who presented themselves for arrest by openly violating the pass laws.

1914: The first successful non-direct blood transfusion is carried out

Blood transfusions have a long and complicated history. The first recorded attempt was made in the 15th century, but it wasn’t until the 17th century that research into transfusions on animals began. The first human blood transfusion was performed in 1667, but it was only in the 19th century that different blood types were discovered, allowing for more successful transfusions. The first blood bank was established during World War I.

1876: The Cape Times appears for the first time

The Cape Times, South Africa’s first daily newspaper, was launched in Cape Town in 1876. It was published in English and sold for a penny. Despite being closed down by Governor Lord Charles Somerset in 1824, the South African Commercial Advertiser reappeared in 1828 with the promise of free speech. Today, The Cape Times remains in continuous daily production and has a readership of about 316,000.


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