Families of the Cradock Four says time is running out for them

Fort Calata, second from right, and Matthew Goniwe, far right, two of the Cradock Four who were murdered by security police in 1985, are accompanied home by two activists after being released from detention in 1984. The family of Calata has expressed concern about the wheels of justice turning slowly. Tiso Blackstar Group
Fort Calata, second from right, and Matthew Goniwe, far right, two of the Cradock Four who were murdered by security police in 1985, are accompanied home by two activists after being released from detention in 1984. The family of Calata has expressed concern about the wheels of justice turning slowly. Tiso Blackstar Group
Image: Lightbox

One of the families of the Cradock Four says time is running out for them and the death of FW de Klerk was a clear sign of this.

The Fort Calata Foundation's Lukhanyo Calata made the comments after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA asked for more time to investigate the "state-sanctioned murders" of his father Fort Calata, his comrades Matthew Goniwe, Sicelo Mhlauli and Sparro Mkonto in June 1985.

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, NPA deputy national director of public prosecutions Adv Rodney de Kock said prosecutors and investigators needed more time to ensure the administration of justice won.

De Kock said that "there seems to be information that there were discussions of killing the Cradock Four at very high level meetings within the country".

Calata said the plea for more time was "wholly unsatisfactory and inadequate", adding national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi and De Kock confirmed the NPA had "simply not done enough" to advance the investigations into the "state-sanctioned murders".

He said this was despite evidence handed to prosecutors by the TRC in 2003 as well as by the lawyers and investigators helping the families since 2018

"We don’t have time. In fact, time is actually against us and the NPA is busy asking for more time when the suspects in the Cradock Four murders are dying, including De Klerk.

"Last year, we had one of the family members, Mrs Nyameka Goniwe, die while she was waiting for justice, so I'm not sure what's up with the NPA's stalling tactics.

"It is infuriating that all Batohi and De Kock could offer were excuses about already established facts that the Cradock Four murders were sanctioned by individuals high up in the apartheid apparatus and that this therefore required further investigation," he said.

The families of the Cradock Four approached the NPA in May last year to make a final prosecutorial decision.

A deadline of July 10, 2020, came and went. A further date of December 2 was given, but the NPA missed that deadline too.

De Kock said the December 2 date was given as a sign of good faith by NPA members in the Eastern Cape when they met with family members and lawyers representing the Cradock Four victims.

"But at that time, the NPA was not in a position to make a decision because there was not sufficient evidence to justify the prosecution of any particular individual in relation to those unfortunate killings.

"The date arose in good faith because prosecutors tried to reassure the victims that there'd be in a position to make a decision.

"The prosecutors and investigators have determined this may be a matter where there were superior orders given in terms of the killing of Cradock Four."

The four anti-apartheid activists were abducted after coming from a meeting of the United Democratic Front in Gqeberha, formerly known as Port Elizabeth, when they were intercepted at a police roadblock in 1985 before being abducted, tortured and their bodies later burnt.

Calata said they would forge ahead with litigation and force the courts to compel the NPA to give them a prosecutorial decision.

“We deserve a prosecutorial decision sooner rather than later and before any of the surviving high profile suspects in the case die too without being held accountable for the crimes they committed against the humanity of Calata, Goniwe, Mkonto and Mhlauli,” Calata said.

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