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David Forbes: The Cradock Four


Price: 15.00 EUR


Late on the winter night of 27 June 1985, South African security forces set up a roadblock to intercept a car near the city of Port Elizabeth. Two of the four anti-Apartheid activists in the car had been secretly targeted for assassination. Matthew Goniwe was a popular teacher in Cradock, and also a revolutionary. Fort Calata, another teacher and activist was also on the hit list. Sparrow Mkonto, a railway union activist, and Sicelo Mhlauli, a visiting headmaster and childhood friend, were also in the car. They were never seen alive again.

The police abducted the four and murdered them in cold blood. Their burnt bodies were found later near the Port Elizabeth suburb of Bluewater Bay. The murders are one of Apartheid’s murkiest episodes. Matthew’s death was a turning point in the struggle. On the day of the funeral of the Cradock Four, President PW Botha declared a State of Emergency. It was the beginning of the end. Within five years, Nelson Mandela would walk free and lead the country to liberty.

“The death of these gallant freedom fighters marked a turning point in the history of our Struggle. No longer could the regime govern in the old way. They were the true heroes of the struggle.” Nelson Mandela

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