On this day, April 10

A killing shocks the nation, giving rise to wide-spread fear. Graphic: African News Agency

A killing shocks the nation, giving rise to wide-spread fear. Graphic: African News Agency

Published Apr 10, 2024


Work starts on Cape Town’s fort, the first 1820 settlers arrive, the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic sets sail, South African aces rack up kills in the air, and remains of 3ft-tall people discovered.

1652 Jan van Riebeeck starts building the clay-and-timber Fort de Goede Hoop, on the then coastline of what becomes Cape Town.

1816 Samuel Taylor Coleridge recites Kubla Khan to fellow poet Lord Byron, who persuades him to publish it.

1820 Debarkation of the first British Settlers starts at Algoa Bay (Port Elizabeth/Gqeberha).

1877 The first human cannonball act is performed in London.

1896 Spyridon Louis of Greece wins the inaugural Olympic marathon (2:58:50) in Athens; and runs the last lap accompanied by Constantine I, the Greek king.

1912 Amid much fanfare, the supposedly unsinkable ocean liner RMS Titanic leaves Southampton, England, on her maiden voyage.

1918 Ace fighter pilot Albert ‘Zulu’ Lewis is born in Kimberley. After Sailor Malan (27 enemy kills), Lewis (18) was the second-highest scoring ‘Saffa' during the Battle of Britain and achieved the even rarer status of ‘Ace in a Day’ not once, but twice. Both, however, fall well short of the achievements of another South African, who unlike them did not survive World War II. Killed in battle during the chaotic last days of the fall of Greece in 1941, he was John ‘Pat’ Pattle, 26. Pattle was so deadly in the air that he is credited with at least 40 kills, possibly as many as 60, making him the highest-scoring British Commonwealth pilot of the war.

1944 Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler escape Auschwitz, and later write a report about the death camp. It is credited with halting the mass deportation of Hungary’s Jews, saving over 200 000 lives.

1993 Charismatic Chris Hani, considered a successor to Nelson Mandela, is assassinated in his driveway in Boksburg. His murder shocks the country to its core and brings the spectre of a full-blooded race war into even sharper focus than before.

1998 The historic Good Friday Agreement on how Northern Ireland should be governed is signed.

2010 A Polish air force plane crashes near Smolensk, Russia, killing 96 people, one of whom is Poland’s President, Lech Kaczyński.

2014 The Council of Europe suspends Russia’s right to vote.

2016 Explosions and a fire caused by fireworks at Puttingal Temple in Kerala, India, kill more than 100 people.

2019 A new species of human, the 3ft tall Homo luzonensis, is announced after 50-60 000 year-old remains are found in a cave on Luzon, in the Philippines.

2021 China orders Jack Ma’s Alibaba pay a record fine of 18.2 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) after anti-trust regulations say it has been acting as a monopoly.