Inquest into deaths of Cradock Four reopened for the third time

An inquest into the deaths of the Cradock Four - a group of anti-apartheid activists - Mathew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlauli; who were assaulted and murdered after attending a meeting of the United Democratic Front and made their way home to Cradock, but never arrived – has been reopened.

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

Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, said the main reason for reopening the investigation is, what he says, is in the interests of justice and to bring closure to the families of the deceased

‘’The National Prosecuting Authority Service firmly believes that the evidence that became available after the De Beer and Zietsman investigations constitutes new evidence that was not previously presented before a new order was issued.’’

‘’Minister Lamola believes that it is in the interests of justice to finally bring closure to the families of the deceased who have been waiting decades for the truth about who killed their loved ones. The family of the Cradock four now want to finally clarify how the deceased came to their deaths. They have spoken out strongly in favour of reopening the investigation,’’ read a statement.

This will be the third inquest of the Cradock Four - the De Beer inquest in 1987 and the Zietsman inquest in 1993

‘’There are numerous inconsistencies between the first and second investigations and new evidence after the findings that warrant a retrial. [The two inquests] produced more questions than answers. Neither of then inquests identified the murderers of the deceased,’’ said Lamola.

Following the end of apartheid in 1994, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established to uncover the horrors of the white-minority regime.

‘’The narrative that the identity of the murderer(s) of the deceased was unknown, or why and how they died, would have remained a well-kept secret if the Security Branch members had not appeared before the TRC and revealed how and why the deceased were killed, fourteen years after the gruesome deaths of the deceased.’’

In this context, the TRC stated: “The Commission finds that in the late 1980s the SAP, and particularly its SB, embarked on a programme of assassinations of political activists. The evidence before the Commission indicates that the resulting deaths and disappearances of activists were part of a systematic pattern of abuse involving premeditated planning by members of the SAP, for which the SAP and the South African government are held responsible.”

The department said it has amnesty applications from six apartheid era security officers which have never been presented in a court for an inquiry.

‘’The new evidence, which has never before been presented to a court of inquiry, consists primarily of the amnesty applications of six security police officers Harold Snyman (Snyman), Eric Alexandra Taylor (Taylor), Gerhardus Johannes Lotz (Lotz), Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (van Rensburg), Johan van Zyl (van Zyl) and Hermanus Barend du Plessis (du Plessis), who were asked during the TRC amnesty hearings. Eugene de Kock (de Kock) was pardoned for his role in the murders,’’ said Lamola in a statement.


Done By: Mitchum George


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