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On this day in history, July 24

Significant and interesting snippets of news, with a South African angle, from this day in history

Facebook admits being naughty. Picture: Reuters

Published Jul 24, 2023


Significant and interesting snippets of news, with a South African angle, from this day in history

1304 England’s King Edward I takes Stirling Castle, using the War Wolf, the largest trebuchet. On seeing the enormous machine, the terrified Scots try to surrender, but Edward prefers to see what his new toy can do.

1648 Cossacks slaughter 2 000 Jews and 600 Polish Catholics in Ukraine.

1793 France passes the first copyright law.

1851 Window tax is abolished in Britain after 155 years.A property tax based on the number of windows in a house, it was a significant social, cultural, and architectural force in England, France, and Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries. To avoid the tax, some houses from the period can be seen to have bricked-up window-spaces.

1862 Jock of the Bushveld author Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, is born in King William’s Town.

1911 Explorer Hiram Bingham discovers Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas

1917 The trial of Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan Mata Hari begins in Paris. Having packed dance halls and opera houses from Russia to France with her Asian-inspired dances which usually consisted of her slowly stripping nude, she is convicted of being a spy owing to her catalogue of lovers including high-ranking military officers of too many nationalities. In reality, World War I’s most notorious spy was a mother who left an abusive marriage, and became a scapegoat for a war-torn France looking to distract the public from heavy casualties on the front lines. Nevertheless, she would meet the firing squad.

1964 School teacher Frederick John Harris’s bomb explodes in Johannesburg Park Station, killing one person and wounding 22. Harris went to the gallows singing We Shall Overcome, a civil rights movement protest song. He was the only white person executed for anti-apartheid activities.

1969 Apollo 11, which took the first men to the moon, returns them, landing in the Pacific.

1978 Margaret Gardiner, 18, becomes the first South African to win the Miss Universe title. Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters won the title for South African, in 2017, and Zozibini Tunzi, in 2019.

1982 Heavy rain causes a mudslide destroying a bridge in Nagasaki, Japan, killing 299 people.

2013 A high-speed train derails on a curve in the line, in Spain killing 78 passengers.

2013 A gunfight between the Knights Templar drug cartel and Mexican police leaves 22 dead.

2019 Facebook acknowledges guilt by agreeing to pay a $5 billion fine, largest ever for violating consumer privacy.