24 April 2019 / 18 Sha’ban 1440

Calata family determined to pursue inquest into the death of apartheid activist


Earlier this year, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced that it will prioritise prosecutions in 15 apartheid-era murders. The 1985 case of the Cradock Four in which four anti-apartheid activists, including TV journalist Lukhanyo Calata’s father, were murdered by the apartheid government, is one of the 15 cases that will be investigated and prosecuted.

When the Cradock Four’s Fort Calata was murdered by agents of the apartheid state in 1985, his son Lukhanyo was only three years old. The South African security police abducted all four activists, killed them and burnt their bodies.

Thirty-one years later Lukhanyo gained further prominence as one of the SABC Eight when he defied Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s reign of censorship at the public broadcaster by writing an open letter that declared: ‘my father didn’t die for this!’

At a press conference last week, families such as the Calata family came forward and spoke out against the ordeal they suffered when their family members were killed by apartheid secret agents.

“Sitting here listening to all these stories after fifty years with no justice, I find it sad thinking that fifty years from now I might sit here again without no truth about what happened to my dad, no justice and no answers,” he said.

“We sat listening to president Cyril Ramaphosa deliver the State of the Nation Address and what was sad was there was no word uttered about all those who were killed during the apartheid era by government, no plan in place to bring the perpetrators to book,” he stressed.

Calata said those responsible for the death of his father will face prosecution, however government is unable to trace exactly which individuals are responsible for the murders.

“Two inquest dockets have been concluded, one in 1989 and one in 1994. The one in 1994 found that apartheid governments officials were responsible for his death, what the inquest could not establish was who the individuals were,” he said.

“As far as we know there has been some form of political interference from the ANC preventing the NPA from prosecuting those responsible. This is extremely sad as most of those who were killed were people who fought for the freedom of others including the ANC,” he said.

Calata said the death of his father as well as the treatment they received during the apartheid years are still haunting him and hinders him from fulfilling his role as a father.

“One evening police came to raid our house. I was still very young, but I remember dogs barking relentlessly and I was scared….so scared that up to today I have a fear of dogs. It’s a fear that I somehow transferred to my son because he now too fears dogs,” he added.

“Having lost my father at such a young age robbed me of the opportunity to bond with male figures, I had no one to show me or teach me how to be a father or how a father is supposed to act and now, many years later I struggle with raising my son because I never had anyone to mould me,” he said.

Calata said he wants  FW De Klerk to be held accountable for everything that happened under his leadership to serve as some form of justice to the bereaved family members.


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