Year stained with sorrow, shame
THERE was plenty of bad news, but 2013 also had its far share of triumphs, quirkiness, and even a touch of the bizarre.
Besides the repercussions of dramatic weather patterns, the year also saw some horrific bus and other road accidents, tragic school stabbings and the loss of many much-loved citizens.
But it also had homecomings, daredevil antics and celebrity visits from the likes of Barack Obama, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes and others.
It will also, however, be remembered as the year Anene Booysen died and became one of the faces of ongoing violence against women throughout South Africa. It was, perhaps ironically, also the year which saw notorious gang leader, Rashied Staggie, granted parole ( which was later revoked), two-thirds into his sentence for ordering the gang rape of a girl of 17.
In some cases, events left citizens reeling: there was the stabbing to death – during a fight on a school bus – of Grade 11 pupil Uviwe Mzingelwa; the shocking murders of former Western Province cricketer John Commins and Stellenbosch academic Dr Louis Heyns, while Cape Town training consultant James Thomas was mourned after being killed in the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in September.
The city reeled when, months after being reported missing, the body of Clovelly mother Rosemary Theron, 39, was found in a shallow grave. Shortly after, her teenage daughter, Phoenix Racing Cloud, appeared in court with two accomplices, charged with the alleged murder.
There were shock reports that renowned Cape Town artist Zwelethu Mthethwa had been charged with the murder of a sex worker.
Then there were the homecomings; 2013 will more happily be recalled as the year in which the much-loved musician Sixto Rodriguez came “home” to Cape Town again to perform for his adoring fans. Dr Cyril Karabus returned home after his nine- month ordeal in Abu Dhabi – and Cape Town surfer Brett Archibald returned to Cape Town after a 48- hour ordeal at sea after falling overboard in Indonesia.
It definitely wasn’t a good start to the year for many Capetonians, when 2013 literally stormed in, storm-strength winds driving waves of flame through densely-packed shacks in Khayelitsha, causing the worst fire in the city for five years – ending in the deaths of three people, the displacement of 4 000, and the destruction of more than 300 shacks.
Tweedenuwejaar (January 2) was more upbeat, with Newlands fans giving one of our favourite cricket sons – Jacques Kallis – a rousing ovation when he reached 13 000 Test runs, an experience he later said was one of the most moving days of his life.
Warning bells rang on January 6, when disgruntled Western Cape farmworkers took to the streets to demand higher wages. Police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the crowds.
On another tack, January 24 saw sister and brother Saheerah, 16, and Hilaal, 13, Dramat kicked out of Eben Donges High in Kraaifontein for wearing traditional Islamic headgear – but the duo returned to class after discussions between the principal and department officials.
February kicked in with the horrific news that 17-year-old teenager Anene Booysen had been raped and mutilated at a construction site in Bredasdorp – a murder which coincided with the release of statistics that revealed that six rape cases are reported to the police every hour in South Africa.
Days later, Capetonians joined forces in the city centre to voice their outrage against the rampant rape in the country – while singer-songwriter Annie Lennox, who has made the city home, was present to add her voice to the cause.
In March, the spotlight fell on Khayelitsha when suspected robber Lindile Maci was beaten, stoned and burnt to death in the township – the fourth attack by a mob in Cape Town since January.
March was marked by another shock event – a bus accident on the Hex River Pass on March 15, which claimed 24 lives and became the focus of three major investigations.
Another event which captured the attention of whale lovers and ordinary Capetonians alike was the beaching of dozens of whales on Long Beach in Kommetjie.
Although authorities and dolphin action groups rallied to try to save them, none of the whales survived.
The Easter Weekend saw three people die and hundreds left homeless as fires swept through parts of Cape Town, including Gugulethu, leaving three people dead, many shacks destroyed and dozens homeless.
Also in April, the rape of an 18-year-old Norwegian student – while her boyfriend was tied up by two armed men on Signal Hill – in the early hours of April 7 sparked an emergency meeting between SANParks and the city about the spate of mountain attacks.
Mid- April saw the literal “end of the road” for Verwoerd as some of the city’s major roads celebrated a range of street renamings and, later in April, some of the same streets were flooded when SA Weather Services reported about 50mm of rain in the city and in the Overberg.
On April 18, Camps Bay surfer Brett Archibald was reported missing at sea after falling overboard while sailing in the Mentawal islands off Sumatra in Indonesia. After a 28-hour ordeal in the sea, treading water and floating, he was spotted by the crew of a boat – and was welcomed home 10 days later.
April was also the month of extended bus strikes, leaving commuters in the lurch and disrupting work flow.
May kicked off with Belieber fever in the Mother City, with thousands flocking to the Cape Town Stadium for the Justin Bieber concert – in a month which also saw Bon Jovi perform.
In mid- May, matric pupil Glenrico Martins, 17, died in hospital, hours after being shot in front of classmates at Spes Bona High School in Athlone as the first schoolbells were ringing. Cape Flats pastor Ivan Waldeck, 45 – a former gangster who mediates among Cape Flats gangs – survived after being shot, eight times, near Bellville while on his way home from church.
In a portent of what was to come later in the year, striking janitors, responsible for cleaning communal toilets, managed to shut down a section of the N2 highway in late May, following earlier strike action.
May 17 brought much jubilation when Professor Cyril Karabus was welcomed back to Cape Town after his ninemonth ordeal in detention in Abu Dhabi, after being found guilty in absentia on charges of manslaughter and fraud following the death of a three-yearold patient he treated for leukaemia in 2002.
May was also the month in which Stellenbosch academic and paediatrician Dr Louis Heyns, 59, was murdered and his body left in a shallow grave in the Strand. He disappeared after leaving his brother’s home in Somerset West.
In early June, the weather once again grabbed the headlines, when “all hail broke loose” and severe storms wreaked havoc across the province in a rude winter awakening.
In June, the so-called poo wars kicked in, with protesters emptying faeces from portable toilets at the provincial legislature to protest against the delivery of portable rather than fixed flush toilets to informal settlements.
The dumping of human waste continued at a number of venues, including Cape Town International Airport, as protests continued.
In July the world celebrated Nelson Mandela’s birthday, holding its collective breath as the statesman’s health took a serious turn for the worse.
The same month, reports emerged that farmworker Flippie Engelbrecht had allegedly been beaten by a Robertson farmer in an attack that left him blind. As the story unfolded, it appeared that some parts may have been fabricated – but not before the suicide of Rietvallei Wine Estate’s Johnny Burger, one the men accused of the assault.
Art lovers were left shocked when the Cape Town- based world-renowned photographer and artist Zwelethu Mthethwa appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court, charged with the murder of 23-year-old Nokuphila Kumala. It was alleged that Mthethwa repeat- edly beat and kicked her in Woodstock in the early hours of April 14 – and was linked to the crime via video footage.
In late September, within hours of the brutal attack by unidentified gunmen at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Capetonians across the spectrum united in their grief at the news that Cape Town training consultant James Thomas was among the dead.
September also saw the release of former Hard Livings gang leader Rashied Staggie on day parole from Pollsmoor Prison after serving 11 years of a 15-year sentence for kidnapping and ordering the rape of a teenager.
His parole was revoked early this month, but not before he joined the Patriotic Alliance, a new political party headed by former convicts Gayton McKenzie and Kenny Kunene.
On October 29, within days of Anene Booysen’s 18th birthday, Jana Kana was convicted of her murder and rape. Days later, he was handed a double life sentence.
The end of October saw chaos erupt in Cape Town during a march by a group calling itself the Cape Town Informal Settlements group, when breakaway groups started looting stalls belonging to informal traders.
While most Capetonians already know they live in one of the best cities in the world, this knowledge was rubberstamped when Lonely Planet put Cape Town at number three in its annual guide of top destinations, after Paris and Trinidad.
This news came as the city prepares for its status as World Design Capital 2014 – in a year which promises a feast in design for all.
And how can 2013 not be remembered as the Grand Parade’s busiest time ever as thousands upon thousands of Capetonians paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, laying wreaths, attending memorial services – or just saying a silent prayer.
EVERYONE LOVED YOU: Stella Buckland was among thousands who left floral tributes to Nelson Mandela at the Grand Parade.
POINT MADE: The N2 highway is blocked during a so-called poo protest.
BELIEBER FEVER: Justin Bieber performed at the Cape Town Stadium.
BRIEFLY FREED: Former gang boss Rashied Staggie visited his family in Woodstock after he was released on parole.