On this day in history, February 25

President Nelson Mandela greets supporters after meeting traditional chiefs in Embo, a rural village outside Durban. Picture: AFP

President Nelson Mandela greets supporters after meeting traditional chiefs in Embo, a rural village outside Durban. Picture: AFP

Published Feb 25, 2024


More than just dates and boring facts

1336 The 4 000 defenders of Pilėnai – a hillfort in Lithuiania – commit suicide rather than be taken captive by Teutonic Knights during the Northern Crusades.

1797 Disgruntled Irishman Colonel William Tate and his force of 1 000–1 500 soldiers surrender after the last invasion of Britain.

1814 George Cato, Natal pioneer and first mayor of Durban, and from a Huguenot family named Caton, is born in London.

1836 Samuel Colt patents first multi-shot handgun, enabling a firearm to be fired multiple times before reloading.

1927 The great diamond rush to Grootfontein, near Lichtenburg, in the Transvaal, starts.

1932 Austrian immigrant Adolf Hitler obtains German citizenship, allowing him to run in the election for Reichspräsident.

1964 Underdog Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) TKOs Sonny Liston in round 7 for his first world heavyweight championship title

1965 Archbishop Owen McCann of Cape Town becomes South Africa’s first cardinal.

1984 A ruptured oil pipeline explodes and the 1  800ºC blaze, which roars through the southern Brazilian swampland shantytown of Cubatao, is so fierce that it incinerates bone and enamel, making a final toll almost impossible to verify. At least 500 people die.

1990 More than 100 000 people attend a rally in Durban addressed by Nelson Mandela, who urges an end to the factional warfare that has killed over 2 500 people in Natal.

1991 The US barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, is hit by an Iraqi missile, killing 28 servicemen.

1991 Mosque of Abraham massacre: In the Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron, jewish religious extremist Baruch Goldstein opens fire with an automatic rifle, killing 29 Palestinian worshippers and injuring 125 more before being beaten to death.

2014 Hundreds of pro-Russian protesters surround the Crimean parliament and demand a referendum on Crimea’s independence.

2015 At least 310 people are killed in avalanches in north-eastern Afghanistan.

2021 Chinese President Xi Jinping claims the country has eradicated extreme poverty, though many observers remain skeptical about the accuracy of Chinese data.

2021 More than 200 prisoners escape and 25 people are killed at Croix-des-Bouquets prison near Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

2023 Türkiye widens its probe into buildings that collapsed during the February 6 earthquakes, arresting 184 people, as the death toll passes 44 128 (and if you include Syria, the death-toll tops 50,000), with nearly two million people left homeless.

February 25, 2024, Graphics show birthdays and anniversaries on each day for the week. This week features the world heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali, the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, the monarch of Sweden, the French tightrope walker Jean-Francois Gravelet, Hugh Hefner of the Playboy Club, the rock band The Who and Compact discs (CDs)