Crime. court, gavel, court case
Crime. court, gavel, court case

Apartheid top brass named in Cradock Four court papers

By Shannon Ebrahim Time of article published Jul 21, 2021

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Relatives of the Cradock Four have named former apartheid ministers, generals and heads of the security branch in an explosive application that was filed in the High Court Gauteng division on Tuesday.

The families are seeking to compel the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and SA Police Service to finalise their investigations and take a prosecutorial decision in the kidnapping, torture, and murder of the Cradock Four, within 60 days of the date of the order.

Tuesday, July 20, marked the 36th anniversary of the funeral of the Cradock Four, who were tortured and murdered by the apartheid police on June 27, 1985, and is of great symbolic significance to the families.

The case is being brought by Lukhanyo Calata - the son of Fort Calata - and the wives of the Sicelo Mhlauli and Sparrow Mkonto. Nyameka Goniwe, the wife of Matthew Goniwe, died in August last year without seeing closure or justice.

In the early 1990s, the Zietsman Inquest found the apartheid security forces were responsible for the murders, but no action was taken.

Six of the killers were denied amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – but since then no action was taken against them, and all the killers on the scene have since died.

The Cradock Four case was one of the 300 murder cases referred by the TRC to the NPA for investigation and prosecution, but the families are pained that the Cradock Four case, along with the other TRC cases referred to the NPA have not been pursued.

What is particularly concerning to the families is that the original investigation docket recently disappeared from the offices of the NPA, and Lukhanyo Calata had to open up a case of theft, but to date the families are not aware of any investigative steps having been taken.

After decades of pleading for justice, the families have instructed lawyers to go to court to compel the SAPS and NPA to finalise their investigations and make a decision on prosecution. According to the court papers, relief is sought against the NDPP, SAPS Commissioner, and Ministers of Justice and Police.

Potential suspects, and those with a legal interest are also cited, including former president FW de Klerk, former Director of the National Intelligence Service Neil Barnard, Former Head of Security Branch Intelligence Craig Williamson, former Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok, former Commanding Officer of the Security Branch and Commissioner of Police Johann van der Merwe, former Minister of Black Education Barend du Plessis, in addition to a number of former apartheid generals and security branch heads.

According to the court application, “More than 35 years have passed since the Cradock Four were abducted, tortured, murdered, and their bodies desecrated and burned beyond recognition.

“Twenty-five years into democracy, not a single person has been indicted for these crimes. Despite being refused amnesty by the TRC’s Amnesty Committee in December 1999, some former security policemen and military personnel who were involved in the murders of the Cradock Four remain at large,” the application states.

“No persons in the chain of command, who were involved in the decision making, planning and who gave the orders to murder the Cradock Four, have been prosecuted,” according to the application.

“This is notwithstanding clear evidence that in June 1985 a military signal was sent to the State Security Council Secretariat recommending that Matthew Goniwe and Mbulelo Goniwe be ’permanently removed from society’.”

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