CapeTalk Celebrating 20 years
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1999: Covering the Urban Terror campaign with Charlotte Kilbane

This October, CapeTalk is celebrating its 20th birthday by reliving some of the most impactful stories of the past twenty years, as told by some of our favourite personalities.

The bombing campaign that plagued South Africa in 1999 kept most journalists in the country pretty much locked up in news rooms covering a "national story of enormous importance, that just didn't stop".

Charlotte Kilbane was a young and budding journalist at the time covering these bombings, popularly known as the Urban Terror campaign, for Eyewitness News.

The bombings were linked to the Islamic vigilante group People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD).

Kilbane reflects on the Urban Terror campaign that took place in Cape Town in 1999.

The People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) with national coordinator, Abdus Salaam Ebrahim led a motorcade in Manenberg and Heideveld against gangsterism and drugs on Wednesday 31 July 2013. Picture: Graeme Raubenheimer/EWN -

In 1999 I was a baby then. I was 23 years old new in the business, pretty much an idiot.

Charlotte Kilbane, EWN news editor

We found ourselves as young in the new news room, thrust into this national story of enormous importance that just didn't stop.

Charlotte Kilbane, EWN news editor

Many people will think of the bombing of Planet Hollywood as the beginning of the Urban Terror campaign but that wasn't the beginning. Before that, there was a series of bomb attacks on private homes, businesses and in places like Retreat and Gatesville.

Charlotte Kilbane, EWN news editor
PAGAD poster 2014.

Kilbane remembers the bombing of Mano's in Green Point on Christmas Eve, as she was getting ready to go out for a night on the town.

We got a call as we were getting ready... we ran off to the scene of the bomb blast, the bomb had actually gone off. It was detonated through a cellphone... I literally filed a story in a micro-mini and high heels...

Charlotte Kilbane, EWN news editor

It was wonderful to sit and reflect on this because CapeTalk has always been such a nexus for people in the city. I feel sentimental about this 20 years on and feel quite emotional about it.

Charlotte Kilbane, EWN news editor

Watch Charlotte Kilbane reflect on the happenings of 1999 as CapeTalk celebrates its 20th birthday:


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