About Cradock Four Memorial

The Cradock Four is a garden of remembrance, a memorial in Cradock’s Lingelihle township. It consists of four tall concrete pillars, erected to honour four anti-apartheid activists assassinated by the secret police in 1985.

The four men were Matthew Goniwe and Fort Calata, both school teachers and activists, Sparrow Mkonto a railway worker and unionist, and Sicelo Mhlauli, a childhood friend of Matthew Goniwe who was with them simply to catch up with his friend.

Did you know? The names of the Cradock Four are on this wall with that of Canon James Arthur Calata. During his time in the ANC he made Cradock an epicentre of national resistance against segregation and apartheid.

They were all on their return from a UDF (United Democratic Front) meeting in Port Elizabeth on the 27 June 1985. They were intercepted by members of the Special Branch who set up a roadblock to stop them just outside Port Elizabeth. They were never seen alive again.

Two of them were marked for assassination by the South African government, despite the subsequent denial of any such involvement (a copy of the message outlining the need for the ‘permanent removal of Matthew Goniwe, Mbulelo Goniwe and Fort Calata’ was anonymously sent to Bantu Holomisa, then the Transkei’s Minister of Defence).

Their bodies, what remained of them after being badly burnt, were found in different parts of Port Elizabeth.

Their deaths provoked a national outcry, and increasing unrest. Their funeral, in Cradock, was one of the biggest political burials in the Eastern Cape since the death of Steve Biko. On the day of their funeral a state of emergency was declared, historically regarded as the beginning of the end for apartheid. Within five years, Nelson Mandela was to walk free.

In 2010, 25 years after their death filmmaker, David Forbes, released his documentary about the Cradock Four. The film took years to make because access to transcripts of amnesty hearings were so difficult to get hold of. Forbes had to use the Promotion of Access to Information Act No 2 of 2000 to finally lay his hands on the information.

The memorial, which has subsequently fallen into grave disrepair, was due a major facelift at the end of 2016, according to the National Department of Tourism. Part of the problem was lack of visible signage directing visitors to the memorial.

Need to Know

WhereCradock Four Memorial, Vusubuntu cultural village, Lingelihle, Cradock, Eastern Cape, South Africa

WhenContact the Vusubuntu cultural village or Cradock Tourism Information.

OvernightStay in Cradock Accommodation, Eastern Cape

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