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On this day in history, October 20

The man they called ‘Prime Evil’, Vlakplaas commander and apartheid assassin Eugene de Kock. Picture: IOL Archives

The man they called ‘Prime Evil’, Vlakplaas commander and apartheid assassin Eugene de Kock. Picture: IOL Archives

Published Oct 20, 2023


Some of the more interesting things that happened on this day.

758 The Chinese city of Guangzhou, 120km from what would be Hong Kong, is sacked by Arab and Persian pirates.

1772 Captain Cook and his ships Resolution and Adventure drop anchor in Table Bay, having set out from England on a voyage of discovery. They take the opportunity to restock and prepare for the long voyage ahead. ‘Every body here (in Cape Town) strove as much as possible to contribute to our happyness (sic),’ writes Richard Pickersgill, Resolution’s third lieutenant.

1888 Ndebele king Lobengula grants Cecil Rhodes – in pursuit of the dream of the British Empire in Africa stretching from the Cape to Cairo – Mashonaland for £100 per month.

1899 The Boers defeat the British at the Battle of Ladysmith, leading to the siege of the town.

1899 At the Battle of Modderspruit, Boer Commandant General Piet Joubert’s men force the British to fall back. He is urged to order a pursuit, but refuses on religious grounds.

1925 John Logie Baird creates the first TV transmitter.

1938 A US radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, convincingly narrated by Orson Welles, causes mass panic with listeners certain that earth is under attack from aliens.

1961 The USSR detonates the Tsar Bomba (The King of Bombs), a thermonuclear bomb – the most powerful explosive ever detonated.

1973 The Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey is completed, connecting Europe and Asia over the Bosporus for the first time.

1974 The ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman takes place in Zaire (now the DRC). The historic boxing match sees Ali win the fight with a knock-out in the eighth round. It is regarded as one of the greatest sporting events of the 20th century.

1996 Former Vlakplaas commander and police assassin Eugene de Kock is jailed for more than 200 years.

2013 78 people are killed by cattle raiders in Jonglei, Sudan.

2017 Pollution was linked to 1 in 6 deaths worldwide, or 9 million, in 2015, according to a report published in the medial journal, The Lancet.

2019 Kashmir officially loses its autonomous status, flag and constitution, as India brings it under federal control.

2020 A DNA study of dogs suggests they were human’s first domesticated animal, 11 000 years ago at the end of the Bronze Age.

2022 Prime Minister Liz Truss announces her intention to resign, after 44 days in office, making hers the shortest term in the UK’s history.