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The Nelson Mandela bay Municipality has taken a bold step to honour the history of the freedom struggle by erecting a heritage site at the Coega Village in memory of the Cradock Four.


At an emotional and historic unveiling ceremony at the site on Friday, 6 May, the memory of the Cradock Four was relived and their contribution toward the liberation of the country was honoured by their family members, dignitaries and the community.


The Cradock Four, namely Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlauli, are recognised as the first to successfully harness the suffering masses of South Africa into an unstoppable engine for change.


The 1985 abduction and murder of the Cradock Four and the PEBCO (Port Elizabeth Black Civics Organisation) three, just three months earlier, stand among the most shameful acts of brutality committed by the Apartheid regime. 


Present at the unveiling to pay tribute to the fallen heroes include Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile, Minister of Justice Jeff Radebe, MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs Mlibo Qoboshiyana, COSATU leader Zwelinzima Vavi, NMB Deputy Executive Mayor Cllr Nancy Sihlwayi and Portfolio Chairperson for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Cllr Maria Hermans.


Deputy Executive Mayor Sihlwayi, who was representing NMB Executive Mayor Cllr Zanoxolo Wayile, said Coega was chosen as the site because it is known to the family that the Cradock Four were found inside Coega.


“We may apologise, but apologies will not be enough to bring back the fallen heroes. What we can do is promise to honour them and keep their names flying high,” said Cllr Sihlwayi.


MEC Qoboshiyana added that the Eastern Cape was a beacon of resistance during the freedom struggle.


Minister Mashatile thanked the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality for honouring the Cradock Four in this way.

“Through this heritage site we are able to recognise the collective sacrifices by our finest four liberation heroes. I wish to pay my respects and gratitude to the families of the Cradock Four for the roles their loved ones played in the liberation of our country. I trust that the families will continue to be comforted by the dream their loved ones believed in, and that has now begun to take shape,” said Minister Mashatile.


Minister Mashatile promised the families of the Cradock Four that the current government will recommit to continue toward pursuing the goal of a non-racial, democratic and non-sexist country, and further strengthen the fight against poverty and unemployment.


“The death of the Cradock Four was a watershed moment in the liberation of South Africa. After the news of their death broke, we pushed even harder for the demise of the Apartheid government. As a result, the movement defied the might of the oppressors and brought the Apartheid regime to its knees. We will forever be indebted to the Cradock Four for the role that they played,” said Minister Mashatile.


Gertrude Malyogolo, a relative of Fort Calata, said the family was pleased to know that they know had a place to go to pay tribute to their loved ones.

“We feel very grateful that they have been honoured in this way and we can now come here to remember them and the roles that they played in our lives,” said Malyogolo.

Traditional dancers admired the beautiful structure erected in honour of the Cradock Four at the newly opened heritage site at the Coega Village in Well’s Estate. Picture: Riaan Labuschagne

 Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile hugs Sindiswa Mkonto, family of Cradock Four member Sparrow Mkonto. Picture: Riaan Labuschagne



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