The funerals of Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sicelo Mhlauli, and Sparrow Mkonto in 1985.
The funerals of Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sicelo Mhlauli, and Sparrow Mkonto in 1985.

Cradock Four families describe NPA’s snail’s pace in bringing justice as a deep betrayal

By Bongani Nkosi Time of article published Jul 21, 2021

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Johannesburg - Families of the Cradock Four, activists killed by apartheid operatives in 1985, have described the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and police’s snail’s pace in bringing to justice those responsible for their deaths as a deep betrayal.

An application was launched yesterday at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, to compel the NPA and police to finally act on the Cradock Four case.

Former president FW De Klerk was one of the apartheid regime officials the families wanted prosecuted in the case, based on his former role in the State Security Council.

This was one of about 300 apartheid-era crimes cases that have been on the NPA and police’s plate since 2002, following the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The TRC recommended the prosecution of perpetrators in the cases after they were either denied amnesty or failed to ask for it.

It came to light last month that the Cabinet irregularly put brakes on the NPA’s intent in earlier 2000s to prosecute the apartheid regime’s human rights violators.

The Cradock Four were Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sicelo Mhlauli, and Sparrow Mkonto. Apartheid police abducted, killed and burnt their bodies on June 27, 1985.

“More than 25 years have elapsed since South Africa became a constitutional democracy yet not a single person has been indicted for these crimes,” Lukhanyo Calata, son of Fort, said in an affidavit filed at the High Court yesterday.

Lukhanyo was an applicant in the matter alongside Sindiswa Mkonto, Sparrow Mkonto’s widow and Nombuyiselo Mhlauli, the widow of Sicelo Mhlauli.

The three sought to convince the court to rule that the NPA and police were acting unconstitutionally by delaying finalisation of the case, and then compel them to do their jobs.

“To date the SAPS have failed, refused or neglected to finalise their investigations, and the NPA has failed to make a prosecutorial decision in respect of the kidnapping and murder of the Cradock Four,” Lukhanyo said in his affidavit.

“My family and I do not believe that the SAPS and NPA are acting in good faith. Indeed, we have lost all confidence in the prosecutors and police. They have betrayed our trust.

“Given their past idleness such investigations could drag on indefinitely while witnesses and suspects grow old and die.”

Lukhanyo said while the apartheid regime’s cover-ups were expected, actions of the post-apartheid government in such cases was sheer betrayal.

“I submit that the failure to finalise the Cradock Four case represents a deep betrayal of those who gave their lives for the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa,” he said.

Lukhanyo said his mother, Nomonde Liza Calata, feared she would pass on before justice was served, just like Goniwe’s wife, Nyameka Goniwe.

“She died (last year) before seeing justice done in her husband's brutal murder,” Lukhanyo wrote in his affidavit.

“The cruel indifference of the post-apartheid South African State robbed her of justice, peace, and closure.

“My mother, now elderly and unwell, fears that she will die without reaching closure and being afforded the dignity she deserves.”

All the policemen detailed to have been present during the torturing and killing of Cradock Four have since died.

Lukhanyo pointed out that “some suspects up the chain of command are still alive”. In his affidavit, he listed De Klerk among these officials.

The NPA and police were expected to file their affidavits in the litigation at a later date.


The Star

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