• THE DATE: TUESDAY 13th MAY 2014
  • VENUE: KwaMUHLE MUSEUM Bram Fischer Road [Ordnance Road] Durban.
  • TIME: Meeting commences at 17h30; Refreshments will be served from 16h45.
  • PARKING: Off Bram Fischer/Ordnance road [next to the Museum]; security person is present
  • FEATURE: FAROOK KHAN is our next Speaker and the title of his talk will be “THE MAN THEY COULD NOT GAG”. Farook Khan started as a cub reporter for Post in Johannesburg in 1960, covering Sports and many stories dealt with the colour bar in sport. Later he wrote in other areas including exposing crime in Jo’burg’s townships, resisting corruption he was often in conflict with the gangs. In the process he gained a reputation for being a political activist and eventually was banished to the Natal Midlands for 10 years. After representations from his employers, the government relaxed its order and allowed him to work in Durban for Post; even later he joined The Daily News – he nominally retired in 2005


Charles Whiteing spoke about “Robey Leibbrandt and Operation Weisdorn” [Operation Hawthorn] involving Robey Leibbrandt’s plan to assassinate General Smuts and bring about a coup d’état in South Africa with German and Ossewa Brandwag support. Charles first became interested in the topic when he found, in his Father’s autograph book, the names of the 1936 S.A. Olympic Team, including Robey Leibbrandt; he was a boxer who had been selected as a member of the SA Olympic team to the Berlin Olympic Games; Robey Leibbrandt went to Germany, where he was impressed with Nazi Germany and was fascinated with Hitler. He returned to Berlin in 1938 to study at the Reich Academy for Gymnastics, and stayed on when war broke out. He was landed off the Namaqualand coast with German instructions to contact local Afrikaner extremists and assassinate Smuts. This treasonous mission was almost successfully followed through by Leibbrandt but he was arrested, sentenced to death for treason; his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by General Smuts who had admired Leibbrandt’s father as a “courageous Boer warrior” in the Anglo Boer War. Leibbrandt was then outrageously freed by the NP government shortly after their 1948 election victory. He later married and had five children; he ran a fish-and-chips shop in Ladybrand in the Free State where he died from a heart attack on August 1 1966,exactly 30 years after the opening of the Berlin Games


At this month’s meeting we will be giving this award to Candice Amy Du Preez; she will be accompanied by the Head of Fashion & Design, Sunthra Moodley. The award and a copy of Daphne Strutt’s book [now out of print] will be made at the beginning of the meeting.


Unfortunately the Archaeological Society have their meeting at the same time as ours: The Annual General Meeting of the KwaZulu-Natal Branch of the South African Archaeological Society will be held on 8 April 2014 at 18:15 at the Durban Natural Science Museum Research Centre, Wyatt Road. The AGM will be followed at 18:45 by the 27th Oliver Davies Memorial Lecture presented by Dr Natalie Swanepoel from the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of South Africa and is titled: ‘Small change: the life and death of the West African money cowrie’.
Also the Alan Paton Centre & Struggle Archives had the pleasure to invite us to the 21st Alan Paton Lecture 2014 to be presented by Professor Sarah Nuttall in Pmb.


Prison for Robey Leibbrandt did not include solitary incarceration which it did for Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist known for his political activism. After spending 81 days in prison he wasn’t prepared to pretend it never happened. Once released, he set to work with a team of assistants and sculptors to create S.A.C.R.E.D., an installation that gives viewers a very literal look at Ai’s experience in solitary detention- six large, iron boxes containing dioramas that show the indignities of imprisonment: squalor, surveillance and constant supervision.

Easter has now passed but the extra-ordinary story of one of the missing Imperial Fabergé Easter eggs has recently surfaced. It was made for Alexander III Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russians to give to his wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna for Easter 1887. After the revolution [1917] the Eggs were seized by the Bolsheviks. Some they kept, but most were sold to the West. [Two were bought by Queen Mary and are part of the British Royal Collection]. This Fabergé egg – which is beautifully crafted and contains a Vacheron Constantin watch inside, sits on an elaborate, jewelled gold stand measuring 8.2 cm in height in total – was sold at auction in New York in 1964 as a ‘Gold watch in egg-form case’ for $2,450! This discovery started a worldwide search; in the meantime the egg was bought in the Mid-West of America at a bric-a-brac market. The buyer tried to make extra money by buying gold and selling it for its scrap metal value. When he spotted the egg, he thought he could make an easy $500 however he had overestimated its worth and couldn’t sell it. No one spotted what it was and luckily no one offered more than the owner had paid for it thus it was saved from the melting pot. The egg became a financial burden to its unknowing owner so one evening in despair he tapped ‘Egg’ and ‘Vacheron Constantin’ into Google and a Telegraph article regarding the egg’s survival appeared. The director of Wartski, the London based Royal Warrant holding experts on the work of Carl Fabergé, flew to the States and after an examination he confirmed that it was indeed the lost Imperial treasure. Wartski acquired the egg for a private collector, making the previous owner an historical lottery winner as he received multiple millions of dollars per centimetre of egg!

It is a hundred years ago that Sir David Gill, royal astronomer at the Cape and first man in South Africa to photograph the moon, died in Cape Town; he was the first President of South African Association for the Advancement of Science formed in 1902. The Gill Medal commemorates Sir David Gill, renowned for his numerous researches and for his part in consolidating astronomical science in Southern Africa. The Gill Medal commemorates Sir David Gill who was selected as he represents an astronomer of outstanding genius who carried out his major work in South Africa.

“The Man They Could Not Gag” will no doubt have some exciting stories to tell – I look forward to seeing you at the meeting on the 13th

Naureen Craig 27 April 2014

Newsletter May 2014