Families of Cradock Four welcomes reopening of inquest

The families of Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sicelo Mhlauli and Sparrow Mkonto, collectively known as the Cradock Four, has welcomed the decision by Justice & Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, to accede to the request to reopen the inquest into the 1985 murders.

PHOTO - X: @LukhanyoCalata: Cradock Four - Garden of Remembrance

On Friday, the department announced that it acted on a recommendation from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), to reopen the inquest for the third time.

In a joint statement, the families said they would have preferred the prosecution of those implicated in this act, rather than to reopen the inquest

“However, the avenue of a prosecution was firmly shut by spurious delays and the eventual death of the last known suspect, Herman Barend du Plessis, in May 2023… Despite this, we look forward to the day when a court in democratic South Africa will finally have the opportunity to hear and evaluate evidence as well deliver us the truth about the murders of our loved ones.”

Lukhanyo Calata, the son of Fort Calata, told Bush Radio News that it hopes the inquest will give them closure.

‘’We might say from the beginning that we pushed the NPA into a prosecution and unfortunately that didn’t happen, and they will need to explain the reasons they didn’t prosecute as per our wishes, but we are here and the inquest will finally give us at least the truth into the murders of our fathers and hoping that will help us into our journey into closure and healing, and we hope the inquest will close this very long and outstanding chapter where we had no truth, where we had no justice, for our fathers. We celebrate this decision today, but tomorrow, we must once again pick up our socks and we must ensure that this inquest is successful and we are able to get the truth around the role of the Apartheid government and certain individals within he government in the murders of our fathers.

On this being the third inquest into the Cradock Four, Calata hopes to get answers they were longing for.

‘’The first two inquests were held in apartheid South Africa so there was certain information we believe were not shared in the court and we also believe the court was very protective of the interest of apartheid security forces of these white police officers. We are hoping the matter will be heard in a democratic South Africa, in a court that is bound by the constitution that is fair and objective. We are hoping for the truth that the real story, who are some of the people who ordered the hit on our fathers – finally that information will be out and we will deal with the truth whatever that is, and primarily help us to our journey of healing and closure, and our mothers hearing the truth before they pass on,’’ said Lukhanyo Calata.

Calata says the inquest was what he says, long overdue, but however called it a ‘’Consolidation prize.’’

‘’We had pushed government for years to prosecute and our understanding is that government were so afraid to prosecute these white police officers, because there were deals in place that the ANC government had struck with the apartheid government and basically negotiated with our fathers lives. That is the only explanation that we can come up with if we consider why the government of the day acceded to prosecute these officers.’’

“We are hopeful this inquest and the truth it will bring to light about the Cradock Four assassinations will help us as families, our community in Cradock, the Eastern Cape and South Africa at large, in our respective journeys as we seek closure and healing from the crimes committed against our humanity by the Apartheid regime of PW Botha and others,” the families said in a statement.

Done By: Mitchum George


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