June 18 (2017) Sunday

On this day in 1911, the first completely South African-built aeroplane was flown in Kimberley by civil engineer John Weston who established a South African non-stop flight record of eight-and-a-half minutes.

He was flying a small biplane. In 1907, Weston began the construction of his aeroplane at Brandfort, in the Free State. However he lacked a powerful enough engine and had to dismantle the aircraft for shipping to France, where it was fitted with a 50 horse power Gnome rotary engine. In 1910 the aircraft had its first successful flight in Europe. Visiting French aviator M Albert Kimmerling made the first powered flight in South Africa in East London on 28 December 1909 over the Nahoon Racecourse. He managed to achieve an altitude of about six metres and a speed of about 48 km/hr.


  • In 1795, about 60 armed burghers, revolting against the economic and Khoi-Khoi policy of the Cape government, occupied the magistrate’s office in Swellendam and forced the magistrate to leave his office. The protestors rejected the authority of the Dutch East Company while electing to remain under the Free Republic of the Netherlands.
  • In 1815 Napoleon and France were defeated by British forces under Lord Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo. Napolean was the first French Emperor since 887. He led to wars throughout Europe, notably against Russia and Britain. Following the Waterloo defeat, he died in exile on the island of St Helena off Africa.
  • In 1928, American aviator Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. She landed at Burry Port, Wales and her achievement was hailed around the world. During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937, she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean and her remains were never recovered.
  • In 1946, Dr Yusuf Dadoo flew to Durban to study the situation where "white hooligans" continued to harass Indian Passive Resisters. Earlier that year, the Smuts Government announced the introduction of the Asiatic Land Tenure and Indian Representation Bill (the "Ghetto Act"), which restricted the rights of Indians to own or occupy land. On 2 June 1946, the "Ghetto Act" came into force. On 13 June, passive resistance began when Indians occupied municipal land in Durban. The government took no action for several days. From 16 June numerous "white hooligans" attacked the camp, pulling down the tents and assaulting the passive resisters, including the women, while the police stood by. Three days after today’s date, on 21 June 1946, Krishensamy Pillai, a plainclothes policeman, was attacked in the vicinity of the resistance camp. He died of the wounds a few days later. On 24 June, the violence was finally stopped when the Smuts government took action, following wide international protests, including condemnation by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • In 2008 the Pretoria High Court ruled that Chinese nationals must be regarded as "blacks" when it came to receiving black economic empowerment benefits. The Chinese Association of SA (Casa), represented by Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, brought the case.

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Thabo Mbeki

In 1942, Thabo Mbeki was born in Idutywa, Transkei.

He was one of four children born to Epainette and Govan Mbeki. From 14 June 1999 to 24 September 2008, he served as the second post-apartheid president. During his term in office, the economy grew at an average rate of 4.5% per year. He also created employment in the middle sectors of the economy and, with the implementation of BEE, managed to sustain a fast-growing black middle class. He attracted the bulk of Africa’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), making South Africa the focal point of African growth. On 20 September 2008 Mbeki announced his resignation, after being recalled by the ANC's National Executive Committee. This followed a conclusion of improper interference in the National Prosecuting Authority by Judge Chris Nicholson, particularly regarding the prosecution of Jacob Zuma for corruption. The Supreme Court of Appeal unanimously overturned Judge Nicholson’s judgment, but the resignation stood. Mbeki is also the brother of Moeletsi Mbeki, well known as a political economist and deputy chairman of the SA Institute of International Affairs, an independent think tank based at Wits University.