“The death of these gallant freedom fighters marked a turning point in the history of our struggle.
No longer should the regime govern in the old way. They were the true heroes of the struggle.”
The Preamble of the Constitution Act 108 of 1996 honours the Cradock Four heroes as follows:
“We, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past; Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”
Below you can find in depth information about each of the Cradock 4; the events leading up to their deaths in 1985, and the aftermath which followed:
The plaque was adapted from the famous photograph (Eastern Cape Herald, 11 October 1984) which had been captured after their release from Section 28 detention for the Lingelihle school boycott. They are, from left to right, Mbulelo Goniwe, Madoda Jacobs, and two of the Cradock Four, Fort Calata and Matthew Goniwe.
Matthew Goniwe and Madoda Jacobs were detained at Polsmoor Prison in Cape Town whilst Fort Calata and Mbulelo Goniwe were at Diepsloot Prison in Johannesburg. Many mistake this photo as the Cradock Four, who were brutally murdered by security forces at Blue Water Bay on 27 June 1985.
Both Madoda Jacobs, head boy of Sam Xhallie Secondary School where Matthew and Fort were teachers, and Mbulelo Goniwe, the only surviving activist part of the Permanent Removal Death List (Van der Westhuizen Signal) were not part of the trip to Port Elizabeth. This ill-fated trip saw the deaths of Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, and two other activists, Sicelo Mhlawuli and Sparrow Mkhonto, who together came to be known as the Cradock Four.