Blasts from our 115-year-old past
What made the news on other Easter Sundays
April 11 1909
Hangover from an old French spirit
Remarkable reports are current in a village in France of the ghost of Joan of Arc having appeared to several persons there. These persons declare that they have received repeated visits from a girl dressed in armour, who spoke to them and predicted a series of great disasters. She told them that a great war was coming; that thousands of people would die of cholera and fever; and that great earthquakes would occur, in one of which Rome would be swallowed up.
April 8 1917
The US enters World War 1
President Wilson has signed the resolution adopted by both Houses of Congress declaring a state of war between the United States and Germany. The German merchantmen in New York, Baltimore and New London harbours have been seized, and it is probable that the German ships at all the other United States ports, totalling 91, will also be taken over.
April 4 1920
Ooh-la-la: French fashion goes risqué
Public opinion in France is becoming thoroughly aroused against the present licence in women’s dress, writes a correspondent in Paris, and the apparent determination of certain dressmakers to continue their raids on decency until the most daring modes of the Directoire and other loose periods in the history of costume are revived. Backs bare to the waist, and undraped legs as “worn” by the extreme set — though not, let it be added, by the great majority of selfrespecting women in Paris — do not by any means exhaust the hopes of the “undress” designers. A filmy skirt so draped as almost to convey the illusion of nonexistence is among the ideals of this class of dressmaker.
March 27 1932 Dial-a-Future
Many of the nine thousand Johannesburg telephone subscribers whose instruments were switched over to automatic working in the small hours of this morning will by now have sampled the novelty of dialling. For to-day, at any rate, the robot phones are the Rand’s latest plaything. Women whose sole occupation appears to be to sip and gossip will this morning be twirling in a flutter to pass on the latest bit of scandal. Months of preparation have been necessary to make this, and much more, possible. To-day, Johannesburg telephone users have at their command a mechanism that is so new that no other place in the world possesses its like. Here is the latest and best. Johannesburg can ask no more.
April 9 1939
Mussolini steals Greek Easter
Good Friday, when Christ was crucified — so Mussolini crucifies little Albania. Thereby smashing Anglo-Italian agreements, deliberately flouting Christianity’s most sacred day, and ranging himself alongside Hitler as a plain thief. Immediate reaction must be to hasten protective alliances with Britain and France throughout Europe. Democracy can stand no more rapes.
April 13 1941
Pasta comes to SA
Macaroni makers in South Africa are hoping for a golden harvest as the result of the influx of the large number of new macaroni eaters, the 20,000 Italian prisoners, of whom the first 7,500 were reported to have arrived during the past week. More than half a dozen factories in the Union are to-day engaged in the production of macaroni, the largest two being in Johannesburg. In addition to macaroni worth £231,844 made in South Africa, the Union formerly imported £300,083 from abroad, mainly from Italy and the United States. It is anticipated that the Defence Department will take full advantage of the South African industry to feed the Italian prisoners.
April 1 1945
Allied victory in sight
Elements of 12 Allied armoured divisions — numbering more than 3,000 tanks — are tonight tearing great gaps through German territory, with swift motorised infantry columns rapidly following up. On the northern flank, Fieldmarshal Montgomery’s troops, driving on a further 16 miles today, have reached a point 66 miles east of the Rhine. Farther south, the American First Army, driving forward from Paderborn in a rapid surge, is reported to be close to linking up with Montgomery’s army.
April 17 1949
Rand Show booms
More than 392,500 people — about the total European population of Johannesburg — had been to the Rand Easter Show when the gates closed last night — 102,000 more than went up to Saturday night last year, and an all-time record.
April 8 1950
Farewell to the greatest dancer of all
Vaslav Nijinsky, the greatest male ballet dancer of all time, died in London to-day at the age of 68. Nijinsky had not danced since 1919, when he was stricken with mental illness. In recent years he lived quietly, first in Switzerland and then in England. Nijinsky danced with the greatest ballerinas of the century, including
March 29 1959 What we need is an Apartheid Museum
It is now a firmly established Nationalist custom to give every apartheid Bill a title which conveys the exact opposite of what the Bill intends to achieve. For example, the Bill compelling every Native to carry a bulky pass book was introduced as the Abolition of Passes Bill; the Bill limiting university education for non-Whites is before Parliament as the Extension of University Education Bill; and now the Bill to deprive the Native population of what little they have achieved in the direction of political rights is known as the Promotion of Bantu Self-Government Bill. One day, when South Africa returns to sanity, various oddities of the Nationalist regime should be collected in a museum as a stern warning to future generations not to indulge in pipe-dreams.
April 18 1976
Old cigarettes sold at new prices
Budget speculators stand to make an extra R5-million profit on cigarette sales by selling old stock at new prices.
Consumer organisations are being swamped with complaints about cigarette retailers who built up huge stockpiles in anticipation of price increases announced in the Budget. What cigarette men are now calling the biggest fag fiddle in the history of the trade began in March when retailers stocked up to such an extent that the floors of cigarette wholesalers and manufacturers were almost cleared.
April 19 1981
Ol' Blue Eyes is coming to SA
Frank Sinatra will sing at Sun City in July … and earn about R2,800 for every minute he’s on stage. The legendary American singer, perhaps the biggest crowd-puller in show business history, is being paid a record $2-million fee — that’s R1.6-million — for nine concerts at the Bophuthatswana entertainment and gambling complex. Accompanied by his own 40piece orchestra, “Ol’ Blue Eyes” will perform at Sun City’s 8,000-seat amphitheatre from July 24.
March 26 1989
Goodbye to the Groot Krokodil
President PW Botha plans to bow out of office in a shower of accolades which may include the release of Mr Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress leader. Expectations have grown among National Party MPs and internationally that this is the hand Mr Botha will play as the only means of getting his Great Indaba plan launched. This in turn will allow him to retire with honour, leaving the country with a measure of hope and earning himself international plaudits.
April 11 1993
Hani’s killer apprehended
A forty-year-old man of Polish extraction with known AWB links is being held by police in connection with the killing of Communist Party boss Chris Hani. Mr Janus Waluz, a ceramics engineer, was picked up on the corner of Trichardts and Mark streets, Boksburg, in a red Ford Laser – registration PBX221T — within five minutes of an all-points bulletin being put out shortly after 10.30am.
The ANC and the South African Communist Party yesterday appealed to their supporters to remain calm and restrained following the assassination of Chris Hani. The ANC asked its members not to be provoked by those intent on wrecking the peace process. ANC leader Nelson Mandela said Mr Hani, the leader of the SA Communist Party, was a martyr to the cause of justice and peace.
April 15 2001
The tragic death of Rosswin Nation
As South Africa mourned its worst soccer tragedy, in which 43 people were crushed to death at Ellis Park stadium this week, a father told of the last hours of the youngest victim, his 11-year-old son Rosswin Nation. Rosswin was crushed against the fence near Gate Four, on the northeast side of the stadium, where tragedy struck on Wednesday night during a game between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. His father, Roy Nation, said: “I saw Rosswin, his face pressed against the fence. He was standing and I thought: ‘Okay, you’re fine, my boy.’ I went to him and turned him around and there was foam coming out of his mouth … he was dead.”
March 13 2013
Madiba fights on bravely
The Presidency yesterday released its most detailed account to date of former president Nelson Mandela’s medical condition, saying that he was “comfortable”. Mandela last night spent a fourth night in hospital, where he is receiving treatment for pneumonia. Mac Maharaj, speaking on behalf of President Jacob Zuma, said that Mandela, who turns 95 in July, developed a “pleural effusion, which was tapped”. Maharaj said: “This has resulted in him now being able to breathe without difficulty. He continues to respond to treatment and is comfortable.” The hero of the anti-apartheid struggle has been hospitalised several times since December owing to recurring lung infections.