Significant and interesting snippets of news, with a South African angle, from this day in history
1861 American Old West folk hero Wild Bill Hickok – a veteran of many gunfights – shoots and kills gang leader David McCanles, his first victim. He would be acquitted because he acted in self-defence.
1887 Rudolph Ludewyk ‘Okey’ Lewis is born in Pretoria. He becomes South Africa’s second world-class athlete after Laurens Meintjes, and represents South Africa at the 1912 Olympics, in Stockholm, Sweden. Despite competing against more experienced riders, Lewis wins gold in the individual 320km cycle race before competing professionally in Germany in 1913-1914. He goes on to serve in the German army, winning the Iron Cross.
1916 Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who many would call ‘Lady Death’ and who Adolf Hitler’s men would refer to as “the Russian bitch from hell’, is born. She is the most successful female sniper in history, having killed 309 German soldiers, including 39 snipers, during World War II. Briefly paralysed with fear on her first day on the battlefield, she was unable to raise her weapon until a Russian soldier beside her was shot dead. ‘He was such a nice, happy boy,’ she recalled. ‘And he was killed just next to me. After that, nothing could stop me.’
1961 Two dams fail, flooding the Indian city of Pune and killing at least 2 000 people.
1970 Adventurer Thor Heyerdahl crosses the Atlantic on a papyrus reed boat, Ra II, proving the ancient Egyptians could have done it.
1984 An ANC car bomb explodes in Mobeni, Durban, killing five people and injuring 27.
1990 Shantytown women strip to the waist and confront bulldozers sent to demolish their Soweto homes.
1998 Zinedine Zidane scores twice against Brazil as hosts France win their first Fifa World Cup.
2017 A giant 6 000km² iceberg breaks off the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
2018 The world’s longest fingernails are cut off; Shridhar Chillal’s nails measured 909.6cm after being for 66 years.
2021 At least 92 people die in a fire in a Covid-19 hospital ward in Iraqi city of Nasiriya.
2022 Twitter sues Elon Musk after he pulls out of a deal to buy it, accusing him of ‘trashing it’ and ‘a model of bad faith’. Musk ends up buying Twitter.