South Africa: Cradock Four - High Court Application To Compel NPA to Prosecute or Not

20 July 2021
Fort Calata Foundation
press release

On 20 July 1985, South Africa saw one of its largest political funerals when Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto and Sicelo Mhlauli were buried in Cradock, in the Eastern Cape. Today, 36 years later, Lukhanyo Calata, the son of Fort Calata marks that dark day in South Africa’s history by filing a legal application with the High Court in Pretoria.

The application seeks the following relief on behalf of the Cradock 4 families:

To compel the National Police Minister, Bheki Cele, and National Police Commissioner, Khehla Sitole, to ensure that the Directorate for Priority Crimes (Hawks) finalise their investigations into the murders of the Cradock Four within 30 days of the court’s order.

To compel the National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi to announce a decision to prosecute or not the known suspects in the murders of the Cradock Four within 60 days of the court’s order.

The Fort Calata Foundation hopes that the above-mentioned application will finally begin the long, outstanding process of bringing those behind the murders of our leaders to justice.

Such prosecutions will also dispel any notions such as those recently espoused by the FW de Klerk Foundation. In a statement issued on 5 July 2021 the De Klerk Foundation talks of ‘an informal agreement between ANC leaders and former operatives of the pre-1994 government’ for the National Prosecuting Authority to ‘suspend its prosecution of apartheid-era crimes’. It is unfortunate that de Klerk and his ilk would rely on such ‘an informal agreement’ to avoid being held accountable for his role in the murders of the Cradock Four.

However, as the recent imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma has shown, South Africa is a constitutional democracy, born from the blood of our martyrs, where all are equal before the law. The time has now come for De Klerk and all other apartheid criminals to be held accountable for the crimes they wantonly committed against our humanity.

The Fort Calata Foundation instead urges former apartheid President F W de Klerk to disclose the names of those ANC leaders. We believe they should say where they got their mandate from to enter into such treacherous agreements with the killers of our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters.

The quest for justice is long, arduous and lonely. Therefore, the Fort Calata Foundation would like to thank both the Foundation for Human Rights and the law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr for their outstanding support to the Cradock Four families these last few years.

Today’s momentous achievement would certainly not have been possible without their unwavering commitment and dedication to justice. We look forward to walking this path of healing and closure for the families, the community of Cradock and a post-apartheid South Africa, together. A luta!


27 June: Disappearance and murder of Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto and Sicelo Mhlaulli

20 July: Funeral of the Cradock 4/Declaration of the first State of Emergency since Sharpeville massacre in 1960

1988 – 1989
First inquest into the Cradock 4 murders finds no one to blame

1993 – 1994
Second inquest finds that apartheid security forces murdered the Cradock 4

Widows of the Cradock 4 testify before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Six police officers denied amnesty for the Cradock 4 murders

Cradock 4 case among the 350 cases handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority

To date no one has been prosecuted in any of these cases.

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