Lost with 2011, the brutal and beautiful
SA mourns Albertina, Asmal and D’oliveira
THIS year marked the demise of several dictators, and saw the deaths of major stars and several South African icons.
On May 2, US Navy Seals shot al-qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, killing him, at his compound in Pakistan. Bin Laden, hunted by the US since the attacks on the World Trade Center in September, 2001, was buried at sea.
In October, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who had been in power for 42 years, fled Tripoli, but was caught and shot dead in Sirte by a number of his countrymen fighting with opposition forces in the huge uprising.
This month, North Korea’s reclusive leader, Kim Jong Il, died after having a heart attack on a train. Known at home as “Dear Leader”, Kim took power in 1994 when his father and founder of the state, Kim Il-sung, died. He developed a nuclear arms programme that pushed the country deep into poverty and made it a pariah state.
A number of major entertainment figures died this year.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor died of congenital heart failure on March 23. Taylor started acting as a child and won two Oscars and many other awards. She was ill for some years before her death at 79.
On July 23, Amy Winehouse joined the “27 Club” – talented musicians who died at 27. Winehouse became a household name when she released the song Rehab – and then became known for her troubled lifestyle and drug abuse. Her death was caused by excessive drinking.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died in October after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56. He had a liver transplant in 2009. He stepped down from his position at the helm of the company a few months before he died. He was the mastermind behind Apple products such as the ipod, the ipad, the iphone and itunes.
Closer to home, Struggle icon Albertina Sisulu died at her Johannesburg home in June. She was 92. An ANC stalwart and former United Democratic Front (UDF) leader, she was the widow of Walter Sisulu and a friend of Nelson Mandela.
Judge President of the Land Claims Court Fikile Bam, a close friend of the Sisulu family, died earlier this month. He was 74. Bam, who served time on Robben Island with Walter Sisulu, had been diagnosed with cancer some years ago.
Two other UDF leaders died this year. Co-founder Johnny Issel died in January. He was 64. Joe Marks, also a founder of the movement and its vice-president from 1983 to 1989, died last month. He was 75.
Kader Asmal, former minister of education and of water affairs and forestry, died in June after having a heart attack in hospital, just days after criticising the Secrecy Bill. He was 76.
Anti-apartheid activist and long-serving Black Sash member Dot Cleminshaw died earlier this month. She was 89. A recipient of the Order of Luthuli in Silver last year, Cleminshaw was known for her opposition to conscription and her lobbying for the law to be changed to allow abortion.
On Thursday, Amichand Rajbansi, leader of the Minority Front, died in hospital in Kwazulu-natal. Rajbansi, nicknamed the “Bengal Tiger”, was a founding member of the National People’s Party, which later became the Minority Front. He was 69.
Top cop Lieutenant-colonel Jo Dryden died in a car crash in Cape Town earlier this month. Dryden was the investigating officer in such high-profile cases as the murder of theatre personality Taliep Petersen and the death of Judge Patrick Maqubela, whose wife, Thandi, is on trial.
South African sporting personalities who died this year included cricketer Basil D’oliveira. He died last month. He was 80. At the height of apartheid he was denied the chance to play for SA and became a Test cricketer in England in his 30s. He was selected for the 1968/69 England tour to SA, but the apartheid government refused to allow him to play and the tour was cancelled. This led to SA being banned from international cricket.
Last week, former road-running champion Zithulele Sinqe died in a car accident near Balfour, where he worked after establishing a development athletics club in the area. Sinqe was named SA Sportsman of the Year in 1986, and won the 56km Two Oceans race in 1996 and 1997.
Cricket writer and former Somerset player Peter Roebuck died last month in Cape Town, where he was covering a Test match at Newlands. Police said he jumped from a hotel window after allegations of sexual assault were made against him. He was writing for the Sydney Morning Herald at the time of his death. He was 55.
In the arts sector, actor and comedian Zack du Plessis and artist Leon Botha died. Botha, who became well known for his work with the band Die Antwoord, was believed to be one of the oldest people living with progeria, a rare genetic condition that causes people to age quickly.
Botha, a musician and painter, also worked with photographer Gordon Clark. He died one day after his 26th birthday in June.
Du Plessis also died in June. Best known for his roles in series such as Vetkoek Paleis and Orkney Snork Nie, he was also a film producer and appeared in 25 movies.
‘DEAR LEADER’: Kim Jong-il
LIBYAN LOATHING: Muammar Gaddafi
9/11 MASTERMIND: Osama bin Laden
STRUGGLE ICON: Albertina Sisulu
SECRECY CRITIC: Kader Asmal
TOP CRICKETER: Basil D’oliveira
SCREEN QUEEN: Elizabeth Taylor