Today in History

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Events of this day in the South African history/Twitter

2003      Former human rights lawyer, admits that she was an Apartheid spy

Vanessa Brereton worked as a human rights lawyer in South Africa, taking on high profile cases under the Apartheid regime. When the African National Congress (ANC) was unbanned in 1990, she was unanimously elected as the treasurer for the Port Elizabeth branch. Her loyalty to the ANC seemed unwavering, when in reality, she acted as an informant for the apartheid government. In 1991, she resigned from the South African Security Police, without anyone suspecting her involvement, but in 2003, Bulelani Ngcuka was accused of acting as an apartheid spy under the alias of Agent RS452. It soon emerged that Brereton was Agent RS452, a fact that she finally admitted on 21 October 2003.

Brereton claims she was recruited by a British-born spy, who took advantage of her social insecurity. Shortly after meeting him, she started reporting back to him on the anti-apartheid meetings she attended. In 1985, a year after she was recruited, Brereton became an undercover police constable with the designation RS452. At this stage, her legal practice, which largely consisted of defending political activists, had become successful, making her cover as a spy more effective. She was eventually promoted to lieutenant and had regular contact with the security forces at their various safe houses.

Brereton resigned from the security forces with the unbanning of the ANC and continued to practice law in the United Kingdom. While she claims that her confession in 2003 was to enable her to live a normal life again, the South African public is left to question the process of the Truth and Reconciliation, as this was the platform on which a confession like Brereton’s should have been made. 

Former Human Rights Lawyer Vanessa Brereton/sahistory.org
Former Human Rights Lawyer Vanessa Brereton/sahistory.org

1982     Political Activist, Barbara Hogan, is sentenced for High Treason

Barbara Hogan is sentenced in the Rand Supreme Court to an effective ten years in prison for high treason and membership of the banned African National Congress (ANC). Hogan admitted her membership, but pleaded not guilty to high treason. This made her the first White woman, after those in the 1956-61 Treason Trial, to be convicted of treason.

Barbara Hogan is sentenced for High Treason/sahistory.org
Barbara Hogan is sentenced for High Treason/sahistory.org

1977     Five developed countries recall their Ambassadors from South Africa

The United States, Netherlands, Great Britain, West Germany and Belgium all recalled their Ambassadors from South Africa for consultations. South Africa received worldwide criticism for its Apartheid policy which was introduced by the National Party government in 1948. The policy instituted racial segregation in the country.

United States, Netherlands, Great Britain, West Germany and Belgium all recalled their Ambassadors from South Africa for consultations/sahistory.org
United States, Netherlands, Great Britain, West Germany and Belgium all recalled their Ambassadors from South Africa for consultations/sahistory.org

1973     Government banns 20 Black leaders

In 1973 massive strikes occurred throughout South Africa, culminating in September 1973 at the Western Deep Levels mine at Carletonville, when 12 striking miners were killed as police fired on a crowd. Shortly afterwards it was reported that the South African government has banned twenty leaders of Black organisations, including the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO), the Black People’s Convention (BPC), the Black Community Programme (BCP), the Black Allied Workers’ Union (BAWU) and the Black Workers’ Project. Members of the South African Black Scholars’ Association (SABSA) were interrogated security police.

 

South African government has banned twenty leaders of Black organisations/Azapo/sahistory.org
South African government has banned twenty leaders of Black organisations/Azapo/sahistory.org

1833    Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite after whom the Nobel Prize is named, is born

Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm on 21 October 1833. His father, Immanuel, was an engineer and inventor. Nobel was initially interested in literature and poetry in addition to science. This displeased his father who wanted him to focus solely on chemistry and physics. Nobel Senior sent his son to study chemical engineering abroad.

Nobel went on to study further, and in Paris, he met Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero, who had invented nitroglycerine. Nobel became interested in nitroglycerine and developed it further to form a substance that was more stable and could be used in construction. He named it dynamite, and it became a sort after product. Nobel became a successful chemist and businessman.

However his personal life was uneventful. He came up with an idea of an award for people who dedicate their lives to ensure peace in the world. The idea was inspired by his friendship with writer and peace advocate Bertha Von Suttner, who became the first ever recipient of the award.

Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm on 21 October 1833/Alfrednobel.org/sahistory.org
Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm on 21 October 1833/Alfrednobel.org/sahistory.org

Source: sahistory.org

Compiled By: REFILWE GAESWE