No amnesty for killers of Cradock Four

Published Dec 14, 1999


Six former Port Elizabeth security policemen have been refused amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the murders of the Cradock Four.

Former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock was, however, granted amnesty on Tuesday for offences related to the murder of the four United Democratic Front activists.

The six security policemen are the late former security branch head Harold Snyman, Eric Alexander Taylor, Gerhardus Johannes Lotz, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Johan van Zyl and Hermanus Barend du Plessis.

Colonel Snyman gave the order for the killing of Mathew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlauli in 1985.

The four activists were abducted while returning to Cradock from a meeting in Port Elizabeth.

Their bodies were found in the burnt-out remains of the vehicle in which they were travelling.

TRC spokesperson Nhlanhla Mbatha said last night the security policemen were denied amnesty because the men never made a full disclosure regarding the killings.

"The commission could therefore not find a relationship between the act and political motives," he said.

"Because of this, amnesty was refused. It was a unanimous decision by all three judges and the two panel members."

Goniwe's eldest brother, 73-year-old Alex, said last night he was relieved that the TRC had the courage to deny the six security policemen amnesty.

Port Elizabeth lawyer Francois van der Merwe, who represents the former security policemen, last night reacted with shock when approached for comment.

"This is the first I hear of the finding of the commission," he said.

"This is unbelievable, totally unacceptable, but also at the same time indicative of the way things at the TRC are run.

"I cannot react on the matter as I have not seen the findings. I have no idea on what grounds the decision was based," he said.

Van der Merwe said that once he had received the documents and studied them, a decision on whether to take it on review would be made.

Mbatha said De Kock was granted amnesty in respect of defeating the ends of justice and any offence incidental thereto.

- The TRC on Monday refused amnesty to nine former security branch policemen, including De Kock and former Port Elizabeth security policeman Gideon Nieuwoudt, for their role in the murder of four colleagues in a bomb blast in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, in 1989.

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