28 MAY 1895, The De Beers billiard rooms open on Warren Street.
28 MAY 1924, A bomb explodes during an aerial show at Kuruman, killing four.
DID YOU KNOW
Six people died in Kuruman after a bomb was accidentally dropped on the crowd during a military “bombing display” in 1924.
Several sources say it was a semi-political rally by the SA Party, others say it was a farewell function for a local military man. Whatever the truth, there was an election later that same year, and the SA Party lost their seat in Kuruman as the public believed the rumour that the bomb had been dropped deliberately.
At the enquiry, the pilot of the DH9 bomber, Lt PS Joubert, was exonerated of liability on charges of manslaughter, although he did resign from the fledgling SA Air Force because of the tragedy.
There were supposed to be two DH9’s taking part in the display but at a forced landing on the way to Kuruman – somewhere between Postmasburg and Olifantshoek – one of the planes was too damaged to continue. Unbeknown to Lt Joubert, his aeroplane was also damaged during the forced landing. There had been some damage to the bomb rack which would have fatal consequences later in the day.
During the display five of the six bombs were dropped on the target about 620 metres from the crowd but one bomb had stuck due to damage to the bomb rack.
As the aeroplane flew over the crowd this 20 pound bomb came unstuck, fell, and landed among the spectators. Three died instantly and three from their wounds. Casper (54) and his wife Anna van der Walt (52) as well as Gert Erlank (39) were killed instantly.
Christina Alida Claassens (8) died of her wounds during the night. She was the daughter of Matthys and Lila Claassens.
Piet van der Linde (21) and Abraham Erasmus died of their wounds at Kimberley Hospital, van der Linde within days while Erasmus died 13 days later and had a semi-military funeral. His eldest daughter, Catharina, was hit in the head with shrapnel, which was not removed.
There were at least 33 others wounded in the tragedy.
A distraught Lt Joubert had to be protected from the crowd and for his own safety was kept in the Kuruman prison overnight.
Pictured are the headstones of the three persons who were killed instantly when the bomb exploded at the air show. They are within the Kuruman cemetery.