On This Day: What happened on 31 December?

Here’s a look at what happened on this day, 31 December, throughout history. We remember the news, events, and people that influenced the course of history forever.


1959 | Final day for the evacuation of black residents from Sophiatown. The area was given to White residents and renamed Triomf (triumph).

1980 | After 20 years as president of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor resigns. He is the first African president to resign voluntarily. 

1986 | Esso Oil Company terminated business operations in South Africa due to political conflict and violence. 

2003 | Eight British tourists were killed in an accident on the R74 between Harrismith and Bergville. They were on their way to the Royal Natal National Park. 

READ: On This Day: What happened on 30 December?


2010 | South African-born Canadian epidemiologist, William Harding le Riche (94)

2012 | Tunisian politician, Tarak Mekki (54)

2013 | Kenyan Olympic hockey player, Hardev Singh Kular (83)


1946 | Zimbabwean Roman Catholic archbishop, Pius Ncube

1946 | South African international development academic, Raphael Kaplinsky

1981 | Ghanaian heptathlete, Margaret Simpson

1984 | Congolese footballer, Calvin Zola


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2004 | Cricket teams in the world including Cricket South Africa agreed to donate money for the humanitarian effort in South-East Asia. 



1970 | Paul McCartney filed a lawsuit to end The Beatles’ partnership.

2010 | Freshlyground, pan-African South African music group had their last group performance at Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town. 

2017 | Indian film superstar and is one of Asia’s highest-paid actors, Rajinikanth announced he is entering politics.


Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second largest freshwater lake in the world.

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