By Nomali Cele
Lukhanyo Calata and his wife, Abigail Calata, wrote a book about the former’s father, Fort Calata. The senior Calata was one of “The Cradock Four.” In “My Father Died for This” The Calatas trace the journey of the man who would come to be known in history as one of the Cradock Four.
In 1985, Fort Calata was murdered by apartheid security police, along with Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto and Sicelo Mhlauli. The Cradock Four were a group of grassroots activists active, through their professions, in teaching and unions and as a part of the UDF. Following their disappearance and the discovery of their bodies, there was unrest. On the day of their funerals, Botha declared a State of Emergency in the Eastern Cape.
In tracing Fort Calata’s journey, his son and daughter-in-law end up telling another Calata story, that of Fort’s grandfather, Rivonia trialist and ANC Secretary-General, Rev James Calata.
In 2016, Lukhanyo Calata, a television journalist by training and occupation, was one of the “SABC Eight.” Senior journalists in the organisation who spoke about against then-COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and the censorship he was putting into effect across the public broadcaster’s many newsrooms. In a widely shared memo, Lukhanyo Calata declared, “My father didn’t die for this.” This is the same father he never got to know because he was killed for his convictions.
On the 10th anniversary of the murders of the Cradock Four, former president Nelson Mandela said, “The death of these gallant freedom fighters marked a turning point in the history of our struggle. No longer could the regime govern the old way. They were the true heroes of the struggle.”
In researching and writing “My Father Died for This,” the Calatas have opened up the calls for justice for families whose loved ones were murdered by the apartheid government, the justice the TRC did not deliver. Earlier in 2018, the National Prosecuting Authority announced that it would be prosecuting 15 apartheid-sanctioned murders. One of these cases is that of the Cradock Four.
UPDATE: Listen to Abigail and Lukhanyo Calata as they discuss the process of writing “My Father Died for This” with John Perlman