2019 in review: The top 10 stories you read on EWN this year
From Amy'Leigh de Jager to Somizi's wedding, these were the top read stories on EWN for 2019.
Whether you were captured by the kidnapping of a six-year-old, needed to see every part of Somizi's wedding outfits, or needed to understand some of Twitter's more famous memes, these were the stories that did best on the site for 2019. In no particular order...
In early September, many South Africans were captured by the story of six-year-old Amy'Leigh de Jager, who was kidnapped from her mother's car outside a Vanderbijlpark school. She was eventually dropped off outside an informal settlement nearby. Strangers who were passing by assisted the child and managed to take her to the nearest police station, and she was safely reunited with her parents. The abductors demanded a R2 million ransom from her parents, which was not handed over. The Vanderbijlpark Magistrates Court denied Tharina Human and Pieter van Zyl bail, while granting Laetitia Nel bail of R25,000. Human is a teacher at Laerskool Kollegepark, and was believed to have been the mastermind behind the incident. A fourth suspect, Mohlomohi Bafokeng, was also arrested.
The former bodybuilding champion and actor visited SA in May for his Arnold Classic Africa Festival in Sandton. But he was in for a rude awakening this time. In a video that was widely shared, a man can be seen running towards Schwarzenegger before jumping and kicking him from the back. Schwarzenegger updated his fans to let them know he won't be pressing charges.
In February, controversial Pastor Sheperd Bushiri and his wife were arrested by the Hawks for money laundering and fraud. Early last year, reports emerged that Bushiri was sending about R15 million a month to his birth country Malawi. It was said the money was transported out of South Africa to Malawi in the pastor’s private jet and a few vehicles. He was also investigated after a stampede at his Pretoria church resulted in three deaths. But the CRL found the church complied with safety regulations. You can read more about him here.
CEO of controversial company Bosasa, renamed African Global Operations, Gavin Watson (73) died in August after a car crash close to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Watson and some top managers at his company - including former COO Angelo Agrizzi - were also implicated in allegations of giving government officials money and other lavish gifts in exchange for favours. His company is alleged to have pumped millions of rand into ANC campaigns.
Watson was this year embroiled in a controversial donation to President Cyril Ramphosa's ANC presidential campaign. R500,000 was donated to the ANC campaign and was exposed after former DA leader Mmusi Maimane asked the president about the donation in Parliament.
In December, African Global Operations and six subsidiaries were sold off after a three-day auction.
The ANC won this year's national election with 57% of votes cast across the country, with some within the party attributing the win to its leader, Cyril Ramaphosa. But factions within the party were laid bare during the run-up to the elections. During the president's inauguration, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema warned Ramaphosa against not selecting the ANC deputy president, David Mabuza, as country deputy president. According to Malema, deputy presidents eventually make their way to the positions they want, especially if they're disgruntled.
A clip of a "miracle" posted on social media in February sent users into a frenzy over the authenticity of this alleged act of God wrought through the hands of a "man of God". In the clip, a man seemingly rises from the dead while in a coffin. Pastor Alph Lukau laid his hands on the dead man in a white suit named Elliot, prayed, and the man was brought back to life. Elliot was found later to actually be called Brighton, and it was found he had not died in the first place and faked it.
In 2016, Lukau made news headlines and was even the subject of an investigation by eNCA's Checkpoint after he held a gala dinner at the Gallagher Conference Centre where thousands of single and divorced women were invited to come and be prayed for so they could find their soulmates and get married. Lukau was also embroiled in a legal battle with South African-based Nigerian journalist Solomon Ashoms after Lukau sued Ashoms for defamation of character after the journalist claimed he was a fake preacher on his Facebook account.
This year would not have been what it was without Somizi Mhlongo gorgeous wedding in September to beau Mohale Motaung. One of the most anticipated events of the year was dotted with celebrities and extravagance - in true Somizi fashion.
South Africans were in September warned to withdraw enough money ahead of the nationwide strike in the banking sector as ATMs and banking services will be shut down. The country’s biggest financial union Sasbo said it would bring the industry to a standstill when it protests retrenchments.
Earlier this year, Standard Bank closed 91 branches, affecting hundreds of jobs. Absa also announced jobs would be at risk because of its restructuring processes.
School violence stories have been on rise, mostly due to larger access to cellphones and the ability to share footage quickly. In January, four pupils from Hoërskool President in Ridgeway were suspended after a school fight video went viral. The video caused an uproar on social media, with some calling it a racist incident as it involved a black and a white pupil.
#SchoolFightVideo Four pupils from #HoërskoolPresident in Ridgeway, Johannesburg have been suspended after a school fight video went viral.— EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) January 25, 2019
*Warning: Video may be upsetting to some viewers. pic.twitter.com/sVNaPd9uBq
And finally, what would 2019 be without its meme of the year? If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen a meme of a woman yelling and pointing at a cat that seems to be sitting poised and unbothered. Apparently, the meme started becoming popular sometime in May this year and people have been sharing it using hilarious captions. But not everyone knew or understood how the mash-up picture made it to such popularity, or who the woman and the cat in the meme were. So, we unpacked it for you. It's unsurprising this explainer of something so Twitter-centric made it to one of the top read stories of 2019.