April 20 (2017) Thursday

On this day in 1968, an SAA Boeing 707 crashed in Namibia.

Flight 228 was a scheduled flight from Jan Smuts International Airport to London Heathrow International Airport that plunged to the ground soon after take-off after a scheduled stopover in Windhoek. Five passengers survived while 123 people died. The subsequent investigation determined that the accident was attributable largely to pilot error. The manufacturer subsequently also acknowledged the lack of a ground proximity warning system in the aircraft. It was the deadliest aviation accident in Namibian history.

ALSO TODAY IN HISTORY

  • In 1968, King Mswati III was born in Swaziland to King Sobhuza III and one of his younger wives, Ntombi Tfwala. He was raised in Masundini as Tfwala’s only child. When his father died in 1982, two of his wives acted as regents until Mswati could be of age to take over the throne. He was crowned in 1986 at the age of eighteen. Mswati has gained a reputation for stirring controversy over the years. His lavish lifestyle, controversial HIV/AIDS policies and marrying underage girls have all sparked outrage and disapproval in his country and abroad. The King has 14 wives and 24 children. He is the last absolute monarch in Africa.
  • In 1986, Michael Spinks beat Larry Holmes to win the heavyweight boxing title. After winning the undisputed championship in the light heavyweight divison, Spinks decided to move up in weight and try to become the second fighter after Bob Fitzsimmons to win both titles. Spinks defeated Holmes via a unanimous decision to become the first reigning light heavyweight champion to win the heavyweight title. After the fight, a bitter Holmes said, "Rocky Marciano couldn't carry my jockstrap." Holmes had a rematch with Spinks on April 19, 1986. Spinks retained the title with a disputed fifteen-round split decision. In a post-fight interview with HBO, Holmes said, "the judges, the referees and promoters can kiss me where the sun don’t shine, and because we're on HBO, that's my big black behind."
  • In 1994, Inkatha ended its boycott of South Africa’s first all-race elections paving the way for the successful general elections which were held a week later. The elections were the first in which citizens of all races were allowed to take part, and were therefore also the first held with universal adult suffrage. The poll was conducted under the direction of the IEC, and marked the end of the four-year process that ended apartheid. Millions queued in lines over a three-day voting period. Altogether 19 726 579 votes were counted and 193 081 were rejected as invalid. As widely expected, the ANC, whose slate incorporated the labour confederation COSATU and the South African Communist Party, won a sweeping victory, taking 62% of the vote, just short of the two-thirds majority required to unilaterally amend the Interim Constitution. As required by that document, the ANC formed a Government of National Unity with the National Party and the Inkatha Freedom Party, the two other parties that won more than 20 seats in the National Assembly.
  • In 1997, Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron made headlines when he announced that he had been living with HIV for twelve years. Cameron was a judge at the time and was one of the first few high profile people to publicly disclose their status. Cameron has stated that his disclosure was inspired by the case of Gugu Dlamini, a woman who was stoned and stabbed to death after disclosing on a local radio show that she had HIV. Cameron has been active in the fight against HIV/AIDS. While serving as human rights lawyer at the Witwatersrand University’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies, he co-drafted the Charter of Rights on AIDS and HIV, co-founded the AIDS Consortium and founded the AIDS Law Project.
  • In 2006, Epainette Mbeki received the Order of the Baobab. The Order of the Baobab is a South African civilian national honour, awarded to those for service in business and the economy; science, medicine, and for technological innovation; and community service. It was instituted on 6 December 2002, and is awarded annually by the President of South Africa. Mbeki commonly known as "MaMbeki” was the mother of former South African president Thabo Mbeki and widow of political activist Govan Mbeki. She lived in Ngcingwane, a rural hamlet near Dutywa, one of South Africa's poorest municipalities. She was known for her endeavours to improve the quality of life of residents in the area. Mbeki won the Community Builder of the Year award, a NAFCOC founder member award, a Transkei chamber stalwart award, the King Cetshwayo African Image Award, and the Eastern Cape arts and culture award for Khanyisa.

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Cheryl Carolus

In 1959, politician Cheryl Carolus was born in Silvertown, on the Cape Flats.

She became involved in politics while still at school and became an activist after joining the United Democratic Front in 1983. In May 1990, Carolus was elected to be part of the African National Congress' delegation which held talks with the apartheid government and in July 1991, she was elected to the ANC's National Executive Committee. She is married to Graham Bloch. In 1998, she became South Africa's High Commissioner in London. Between 2001 and 2004, she was the chief executive officer of SA Tourism (SATOUR). She was the Board Chairperson for South African National Parks (SANPARKS) and, in 2009, she assumed this position at South African Airways. She is also chairperson of Peotona Holdings, an investment company that deals with business development. Carolus is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Crisis Group. In 2015 she became a Trustee of the British Museum.