Looking back on 2021

Voters queue at The Grove Primary polling station in Claremont during the municipal elections in November.

As our second year with the pandemic draws to a close, the Southern Suburbs Tatler looks back on some of the stories that made headlines in these unprecedented times.

The year started with the country going through a second wave of Covid-19 infections, and Groote Schuur rookie Dr Zane Stenning spoke about the challenges of working at the hospital’s Covid-19 unit (“Young doc juggles beds in second-wave Covid storm,” Tatler, January 14).

There was a mixed response to the government’s decision to push back the opening of schools by a further two weeks (“Covid poses tough choices for teachers and parents,” January 22).

In February, the first round of front-line workers received their Covid-19 vaccines, and Professor Ivan Joubert, head of Groote Schuur’s critical care unit, became the first front-line worker at the hospital to be vaccinated (“Health-care workers get Covid jab at Groote Schuur,” February 25).

With schools opening in February, matric results were released at the end of that month. Rondebosch Boys, Cannons Creek High, Bishops, SACS, Herschel Girls, St Joseph’s Marist College, Star College and Westerford High School all held on to their 100% pass rates (“Matrics push through pandemic,” February 25).

The end of March and beginning of April were tragic times for Mowbray police: they lost two police officers who were killed off duty. Constable Khangelani Mangqabini was shot near his Delft South home (“Mowbray police mourn officer killed in shooting,” March 25), and Sergeant Mavhayisi Ngobeni died after being assaulted with bottles and bricks in Eersterivier (“Another off-duty Mowbray police officer killed,” April 8)

Also in April, a Table Mountain wildfire swept from Rhodes Memorial to Devil’s Peak in three days, destroying homes, heritage landmarks and a hallowed UCT library. The historical Rhodes Memorial tea room, the Mostert’s Mill and UCT’s Jagger Library were chief among the losses. (“Counting the cost of Table Mountain firestorm,” April 22).

The public and relief group Gift of the Gives supported the firefighters and the 4000 UCT students who had to leave campus accommodation (“Disaster relief group helps UCT and firefighters,” April 22)

The country entered its third wave of infections in the middle of the year, and vaccinations started to become available for the elderly (“Seniors welcome vaccine,” June 10). The first teachers in the province got vaccinated in Pinelands (“Teacher vaccinations get going in Pinelands,” July 1), and a public vaccination centre opened at UCT (“UCT launches vaccine site,” September 2). Campaigns were launched to vaccinate the homeless (“Homeless get vaccines in Claremont,” September 16) and sex workers (“Sex workers vaccinated on pride day,” September 23).

During the municipal elections in November, the DA won most of the wards where the Tatler is distributed. Katherine Christie, Yusuf Mohamed, Mikhail Manual and Riad Davids are the new councillors in wards 58, 57, 59 and 54, respectively, and Ian McMahon was re-elected for Ward 115 (“DA support slips, but southern suburbs stay blue,” November 11).

In April, the City gave the go-ahead for the R4 billion mixed-development of the River Club touting it as a much-needed jobs generator (“City gives go-ahead for massive River Club development,” April 29). However, opponents to the plan, including various civic groups and some Khoisan representatives, argue it will destroy the area’s heritage (“Fight to stop River Club development continues,” November 18).

People queue for their jab at the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre.
This is what the Reading Room of UCT’s Jagger Library looked like after the three-day Table Mountain wildfire in April.