Investigation into death of Cradock-4 reopened


The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services said on Friday it would reopen the investigation into the murder of four anti-apartheid activists, which has become one of the era’s most notorious crimes but remains unsolved nearly four decades later.

The so-called Cradock-4 – Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sicelo Mhlauli and Sparrow Mkhonto – were on their way back from Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha) to Cradock in June 1985 when they were allegedly stopped by members of the South African Police (SAPD) security branch. was arrested, assaulted and killed at a roadblock.

Mkhonto and Mhlauli’s bodies were found shortly after the incident at a landfill in Port Elizabeth, while Calata and Goniwe’s bodies were found in a bay days later.

All four men were severely assaulted, suffered several deep stab wounds and their remains were burned.

The security forces under the apartheid regime were suspected of being behind the murders. However, no one has yet been brought before the court.

Ronald Lamola, minister of justice and correctional services, says it is “in the interest of justice to finally bring closure to the families of the deceased who have been waiting for decades for the truth about who killed their loved ones”.

Two inquests were held – in 1987 and 1993 – but “raised more questions than answers”.

After the end of apartheid in 1994, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (WRC) was established to expose the horrors of the white minority regime.

The TRC found that the South African government, police and security forces were responsible for “a systematic pattern of abuse” that led to the “deaths and disappearance of activists”.

“14 years after the gruesome death of the deceased, members of the security forces have revealed how and why the deceased were killed.

“The TRC offered amnesty to those who fully accounted for their crimes, although it was denied to suspects involved in the Cradock 4 deaths,” says Lamola.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has asked for the case to be reopened to present evidence from the TRC that was not considered in the previous enquiries.

Lamola says this step is necessary to “restore confidence in the legal system”.