Fort Calata: Why was he killed? Question still remains 35 years later
In this episode of UnResolved, Karyn Maughan investigates the murder anti-apartheid activist Fort Calata who was brutally murdered in 1985 in Cradock by the apartheid Security Branch. To this day, no one has been prosecuted for the murder of Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli.
Thirty-five years later, those responsible for the brutal murder of the Cradock Four have not been convicted.
The family of anti-apartheid activist Fort Calata, who together with Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli were killed in Cradock in the Eastern Cape, is still seeking justice.
Calata, a teacher at Sam Xhalliie High School in Cradock, was instrumental in forming the Cradock Residents Association, set up primarily to fight rent increases.
In March 1984, Calata and Goniwe were detained under the Internal Security Act following protests by students who were demanding that Goniwe be reinstated as an acting headmaster at the school.
The duo was released from jail in October 1984 but they were "marked men" by the apartheid security forces.
On 27 June 1985, Calata, Goniwe, Mkhonto and Mhlauli drove to Port Elizabeth to attend a United Democratic Front briefing. They never returned home.
Their bodies were mutilated, burnt and dumped near Bluewater Bay outside Port Elizabeth the following week.
There is irrefutable proof and evidence that the murders of the Cradock Four were discussed in the highest offices of apartheid South Africa.Lukhanyo Calata, Son of Fort Calata
In my prayer, I always ask God to help me not die without knowing who murdered my husband and why they murdered him? Why did they kill him? Why?Nomonde Calata, Wife of Fort Calata
Nomonde Calata describes her husband as a caring and loving man who loved to dance and very helpful at home.
She says she will never be able to replace him with anyone.
He would keep some money to buy juice and bread for the children in his class because some of the children came to school hungry. He was not prepared to teach hungry students.Nomonde Calata, Wife of Fort Calata
Nomonde says while her husband was in detention, the security police went to search her house and threatened her.
The harassment continued even after Calata was released from detention.
A month before the gruesome death of Calata, the security police visited their home once again and issued another threat.
I remember Eric Venter, who was a policeman, asked me where my husband was. I told him he is in Johannesburg. While seating on my bed, Venter said: 'Your husband can hide or you can hide him but when we get hold of him, he will s**t himself.'Nomonde Calata, Wife of Fort Calata
Nomonde says she learnt via the newspaper she was selling that Goniwe's car had been burnt.
She adds that she hoped that Goniwe and her husband had managed to survive.
The priest told us what happened. Lukhanyo started to vomit, my baby stopped to kick in my stomach. Everything stopped at that moment. I didn't want to hear that my husband was killed.Nomonde Calata, Wife of Fort Calata
It is eating me up (that I couldn't see his remains) and sometimes I feel like I want to run and go to a place where I could see him.Nomonde Calata, Wife of Fort Calata
An inquest into the death of the Cradock Four was initiated in 1987 and the judge found that the four were killed by "unknown persons" and that "no-one was to blame".
In 1992 a second inquest was done and the findings said that the security forces were responsible for their deaths.
The family hoped that with the dawn of democracy, justice would be served.
We were hoping that with the new changes in our country, democracy and the ANC being the leading party, they will be the people holding our hands and comforting us and giving us the assurance that they would deal with people who killed our husbands.Nomonde Calata, Wife of Fort Calata
We were convinced that justice was literally on our doorstep.Lukhanyo Calata, Son of Fort Calata
Former president F W de Klerk testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and denied any involvement with the security police's killing of activists.
I have never been part of any decision taken by the Cabinet, the state security council or any committee authorising or instructing the commission of such gross violations of human rights.F W de Klerk, Former SA president
Nor did I individually, directly or indirectly suggest, direct or order any such actions.F W de Klerk, Former SA president
He added that he was shocked by the atrocities committed by the security police.
It came to me as just a shocking revelation as to anyone else.F W de Klerk, Former SA president
However, archbishop Desmond Tutu says De Klerk was informed of the atrocities of the security police.
I told him and people were killed. We told him. I am sad.Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Nomonde Calata concurs.
He (De Klerk) was there in those meetings, he was informed about everything that was happening.Nomonde Calata, Wife of Fort Calata
She adds that she only has one question for the former president.
I would ask him why did he agree that my husband should be killed.Nomonde Calata, Wife of Fort Calata
Listen to the full podcast here:
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