This Day in History

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Monday, May 17, 1954

Michael Leonard Roberts was born on 17 May 1954 in Cape Town.[i] Roberts was one of South Africa’s most renowned jockeys.[ii] Roberts was nicknamed “Muis” (English translation for mouse), due to his petite physique when he registered as a member of the South African Jockey Academy in Shongweni, Pinetown, Durban, as a fourteen year old boy who stood a mere 1,32 metres tall.[iii] Michael won the South African national jockey title for 11 t

This article was produced by South African History Online on 22-Feb-2017

This Day in History Extra Dates
  • Saturday, May 17, 2003
    Four British tourists escape unharmed when the Moroccan hotel they are staying in is damaged in a terrorist bomb attack.
  • Thursday, May 17, 2001
    The United Nations conference on poverty announces the launch of the World Trade University, a new university to give the world's poor access to training in international trade and finance.
    References:

  • Wednesday, May 17, 2000
    The Sierra Leone rebel leader Foday Sankoh is held by British forces as involvement in civil war increases.
  • Sunday, May 17, 1998
    Hugh Rouse (78), SA radio announcer, dies in Johannesburg of cancer of the throat.
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau

  • Saturday, May 17, 1997
    Zaire's new leader Laurent Kabila renames the nation the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Saturday, May 17, 1997
    Roelf Meyer announces his resignation as leader of the NP in Gauteng and member of parliament.
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau

  • Wednesday, May 17, 1995
    Parliament approves legislation to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
    References:
    • Kalley, J.A.; Schoeman, E. & Andor, L.E. (eds)(1999). Southern African Political History: a chronology of key political events from independence to mid-1997, Westport: Greenwood.

  • Wednesday, May 17, 1995
    Unita leader Jonas Savimbi meets President Mandela in Cape Town.
    References:
    • Kalley, J.A.; Schoeman, E. & Andor, L.E. (eds)(1999). Southern African Political History: a chronology of key political events from independence to mid-1997, Westport: Greenwood.

  • Tuesday, May 17, 1994
    Malawi voters stream from impoverished villages to take part in the first multiparty election in three decades. Kamuzu Banda, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders who ruled Malawi with an iron fist for thirty years, is toppled from power.
  • Monday, May 17, 1993
    Egyptian president Muhammad Hosni Mubarak orders direct-dial communications to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and the Sudan cut as part of the fight against Islamic extremists
  • Sunday, May 17, 1992
    Ernest Mabaso, chairman of the ANC Zola Branch and member of the Soweto Civic Association, is shot dead as he is leaving his house in an alleged assassination incident.
    References:
    • Coleman, M. (ed)(1998). A Crime Against Humanity: analysing the repression of the apartheid state, Johannesburg: Human Rights Committee, p. 255.

  • Friday, May 17, 1991
    The UN's High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has predicted that 1,200,000 people in Ethiopia are about to starve to death.  
  • Friday, May 17, 1991
    Tumi Padi and Nokuzolo, both MK's, are shot dead in Soweto. Coleman, M. (ed)(1998). A Crime Against Humanity: analysing the repression of the apartheid state, Johannesburg: Human Rights Committee, p. 253.)

  • Wednesday, May 17, 1989
    A military coup fails to remove Mengistu Haile Mariam as president of Ethiopia.
  • Wednesday, May 17, 1989
    In a major move in the process of privatisation in South Africa, the Conversion of Iscor Bill is passed, enabling Iscor to be converted into a public company.
    References:
    • South African Institute of Race Relations. (1990). Race Relations Survey 1989/90, Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations, p. 581

  • Tuesday, May 17, 1988
    Algeria and Morocco decide to restore diplomatic relations after twelve years of bitter political disputes.
  • Tuesday, May 17, 1988
    Elvis Rathogwa, chair of FAWU shop stewards' council, disappears in Wynberg. The farm fare management claimed that they had accompanied him to the Kew police station, but the police denied that he was in detention.
    References:
    • Coleman, M. (ed)(1998). A Crime Against Humanity: analysing the repression of the apartheid state, Johannesburg: Human Rights Committee, p. 260.

  • Tuesday, May 17, 1988
    Former information officer of the SADF, Brig. J. Bosman, reveals in Parliament that one third of the 3 000 troops involved in SA's operation in south-east Angola are not White. In addition 65% to 70% of the soldiers in the operational area were 'people of colour'.
    References:
    • South African Institute of Race Relations. (1989). Race Relations Survey 1988/89, Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations, p. 521

  • Sunday, May 17, 1987
    The Zimbabwean government and the African National Congress blame South Africa for a blast, which damages the ANC's diplomatic office in Harare.
    References:
    • Coleman, M. (ed)(1998). A Crime Against Humanity: analysing the repression of the apartheid state, Johannesburg: Human Rights Committee, p. 133.
    •  https://www.news24.com

  • Saturday, May 17, 1986
    SA loses 18-19 against the New Zealand Cavaliers rugby team.
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau

  • Thursday, May 17, 1979
    The Advocate General Bill is introduced by L. Muller, Minister of Transport, against strong opposition from the Progressive Federal Party and the New Republic Party.
    References:
    • Kalley, J.A.; Schoeman, E. & Andor, L.E. (eds)(1999). Southern African Political History: a chronology of key political events from independence to mid-1997, Westport: Greenwood.

  • Wednesday, May 17, 1978
    South African police close the investigation into the death of
  • Tuesday, May 17, 1977
    Marthinus Lourens de Villiers (91), composer of 'Die Stem' (The Call of South Africa), dies in Wellington, Cape.
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau

  • Tuesday, May 17, 1977
    A committee of inquiry appointed by the Administrators of Natal and the Cape Province, declares that East Griqualand (claimed by Transkei) has never been a Black tribal territory, but has for 115 years been an area of Griqua, Coloured and White settlement. The area is subsequently transferred from the Cape Province to Natal with effect from 1 January 1978.
    References:
    • Kalley, J.A.; Schoeman, E. & Andor, L.E. (eds)(1999). Southern African Political History: a chronology of key political events from independence to mid-1997, Westport: Greenwood.

  • Tuesday, May 17, 1977
    A "Whites only" referendum in South West Africa/Namibia gives overwhelming support for plans for Black majority rule in the country.
    References:

  • Thursday, May 17, 1973
    Maggie Laubser (87), SA painter and receiver of several awards, dies in the Strand, Cape.
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau
    •  Kruger, D.W. (ed)(1972). Dictionary of South African Biography, Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council, v. 5, p. 439.

  • Monday, May 17, 1971
    State President C.R. Swart opens Melrose House in Pretoria as a museum.
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau

  • Sunday, May 17, 1970
    Thor Heyerdahl sets sail from Morocco for Latin America on a papyrus boat, Ra II, to prove his theories that ancient Egyptians made similar voyages 4,000 years ago.
  • Wednesday, May 17, 1967
    Prof. Maarten Christiaan Roode, first music professor of the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education and compiler of the first English-Afrikaans Music Terminology of the FAK, dies.
    References:
    • Swart: Afrikaanse Kultuuralmanak, p. 221

  • Wednesday, May 17, 1967
    SAA's Boeing 707 "Windhoek" sets up a new record for the flight between Mauritius and Perth, covering the 3740-mile stretch in 5 hours 32 minutes.
    References:

  • Sunday, May 17, 1964
    President Ahmed Ben Bella, of the republic of Algeria, returns home after a 25-day diplomatic tour to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
  • Thursday, May 17, 1962
    Dr. Jan Steytler, leader of the Progressive Party, launches a nationwide protest campaign against the General Laws Amendment Bill, published by the government on 12 May 1962 defining the crime of sabotage in the widest terms.
    References:
    • Kalley, J.A.; Schoeman, E. & Andor, L.E. (eds)(1999). Southern African Political History: a chronology of key political events from independence to mid-1997, Westport: Greenwood.

  • Tuesday, May 17, 1960
    The British Queen Mother starts the hydroelectric turbines of the Kariba Dam on the Zambezi. She applauds the "young and enterprising" Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
  • Tuesday, May 17, 1960
    Belgian authority in the Congo has almost completely disintegrated. Patrice Lumumba is now in control of much of the country.
  • Friday, May 17, 1957
    Egypt bars Israeli ships from the Suez Canal.
    References:

  • Thursday, May 17, 1956
    Nationalist China breaks off relations with Egypt after President Gamal Abdel Nasser grants diplomatic recognition to Communist China.
  • Saturday, May 17, 1941
    WWII: North Africa. Rommel is instructed by Berlin to leave Tobruk to the Italians and concentrate his Deutsches Afrika Korps on the fight along the Egypt–Libya border.  
  • Friday, May 17, 1901
    Betsie Verwoerd (Elizabeth Schoombie), wife of Dr Verwoerd, is born in Middelburg, Cape Colony.
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau

  • Thursday, May 17, 1900
    Esther Franks, physician and first woman ophthalmic surgeon to practise in SA, is born in ZÁ¼rich, Switzerland. Her parents emigrated from Russia via England and Switzerland and came to SA shortly after she was born. She was a pioneer in the fight against blindness. In 1971 the readers of The Star adjudged her Woman of the Year for her outstanding work in restoring sight to thousands of rural Africans.
    References:
    • Verwey, E.J. (ed)(1995). New Dictionary of South African Biography, v.1, Pretoria: HSRC.

  • Thursday, May 17, 1900
    Anglo-Boer War 2:  The first 'Mafeking night". In an unprecedented display of public emotions, life in the great cities in Britain is brought to a halt as people dance in the street celebrating the news of the relief of Mafeking. A new word, 'to Maffick', is added to the English language, meaning, "to celebrate with riotous rejoicings".
    References:
    • Cloete: The Anglo-Boer War: a chronology

  • Thursday, May 17, 1900
    Anglo-Boer War 2:  After 216 days Boer forces abandon the siege of Mafeking and Colonel Mahon's relief column enters the town.
  • Tuesday, May 17, 1898
    Frederik Christiaan Ludolph Bosman, founder member of several Afrikaans cultural organisations, is born in Kuils River.
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau

  • Saturday, May 17, 1884
    The ZAR and Portugal signs a legal agreement on the construction of the Delagoa Bay railway line.
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau

  • Wednesday, May 17, 1865
    Fifty-seven (or seventy according to another source) lives are lost when a gale in Table Bay wrecks eleven (News 24 states eighteen) ships. The cables of one of the vessels, the mail steamship Athens, are snapped by the storm and all twenty-nine people on board drown.
    References:
    • Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds)(1970). Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v. 9, p. 618
    •  https://www.news24.com

  • Thursday, May 17, 1838
    Sir James Hulett, SA sugar magnate, is born in England.
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau

  • Wednesday, May 17, 1747
    Dr Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp, controversial missionary and physician of the London Missionary Society, is born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau
    •  Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds)(1970). Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v. 11, p. 135

  • Saturday, May 17, 1659
    The Free Burghers sign a petition asking Jan van Riebeeck to act against the 'Kaapmans' (Khoi-Khoi). 
    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau

  • Thursday, May 17, 2012
    World Telecommunication Day.
    References: