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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 112

Paragraph Numbers 277 to 293

Volume 3

Chapter 2

Subsection 25


277 Cradock is a small farming town some 300 km north of Port Elizabeth. Michausdal and Lingelihle townships at Cradock have had a long tradition of resistance to apartheid. Canon JA Calata, General Secretary of the ANC between 1936 and 1949, was from Cradock. During the 1950s, the town had a vigorous ANC branch, which mobilised support for the Freedom Charter and other campaigns. When Canon Calata died on 16 June 1983, the opportunity was used to mobilise people once again in the spirit of the Congress movement. This was at the time of the formation of the UDF.

278 Mr Matthew Goniwe, the popular principal of the Lingelihle Secondary School, and his nephew Mr Mbulelo Goniwe were approached by Mr Arnold Stofile, an ANC underground activist based at Fort Hare university, and asked to build organisation in Cradock and other Karoo towns. In 1983 he was instrumental in forming the Cradock Residents Association (Cradora), set up primarily to fight rent increases, and became its first chairperson. He was assisted by Mr Fort Calata, a fellow teacher at Lingelihle, who later became chairperson of the Cradock Youth Association (Cradoya).

279 On 29 November 1983, Mr Matthew Goniwe was notified that he had been transferred to Graaff-Reinet. Assuming this to be a politically motivated transfer, Goniwe refused to accept the move. The Department of Education and Training (DET) then claimed that he had ‘dismissed himself’. When the DET refused to revoke the transfer, a school boycott started in February 1984 in support of Goniwe. By 18 March, it was supported by around 7 000 students from all seven Lingelihle schools; it ran for over fifteen months and became the longest school boycott in the country.

280 On 26 March 1984 a magistrate banned all meetings of Cradora and Cradoya. A few days later, police fired teargas into a church hall packed with 2 000 pupils. Pupils responded by stoning the police. On 28 March, twenty-one-year-old Mr Fezile Donald ‘Madoda’ Jacobs [EC0025/96NWC], head boy of Lingelihle High School, was detained under section 28 of the Internal Security Act. A COSAS and Cradoya leader, he was detained and tortured on numerous occasions between 1980 and 1989. He was charged with public violence and acquitted; he was later also charged and acquitted in connection with the 1985 killing of a Cradock police officer.

281 On 30 March 1984, Mr Matthew Goniwe [EC0080/96NWC], Mr Mbulelo Goniwe and Mr Fort Calata were detained under the same Act. On 31 March, the Minister of Law and Order banned all meetings for three months, extending the ban for another three months at the end of June. Conflict in Lingelihle escalated and the houses of councillors were stoned. Boycott-related violence began on 15 April, when students marched through the township demanding the reinstatement of Matthew Goniwe. Mr Sebenzile ‘Sheshi’ Jacobs [EC0149/96NWC], an eighteen-year-old student activist, was one of the first victims of political violence in Cradock in the 1980s. He was stabbed by a student who opposed the schools boycott.

282 On 26 April, the home of Mr Gladwell Makawula, Cradora chairperson, was petrol-bombed. The ‘comrades’ stoned the house of Mr Nqikashe, a teacher critical of the boycott. He warded them off with a pistol, but subsequently fled the township. His house was burnt down. On 27 May, police and the SADF cordoned off Lingelihle township searching for public violence suspects. In June 1984, Mr Matthew Goniwe, Mr Fort Calata, Mr Mbulelo Goniwe and Mr Madoda Jacobs were listed in terms of the Internal Security Act.

283 On 16 June, Cradora called a successful one-day consumer boycott. A commemoration meeting was dispersed by the police with sjamboks and teargas, and schoolchildren stoned police vehicles. Over 200 people were charged with arson and unlawful gathering. On 23 July, the trial of five scholars for intimidation relating to the schools boycott began. On 9 August, eleven scholars were tried with public violence.

284 On 21 August, Mr Fort Calata, chairperson of Cradoya, was dismissed from his teaching post while in detention. From July to November, seventy-seven Cradock residents were tried for public violence and arson; all but nine were acquitted.

285 In August 1984, a successful seven-day consumer boycott of white shops in Cradock was called, protesting against the detention of Goniwe, Calata and Mbulelo Goniwe. They were released on 10 October to a hero’s welcome. In December 1984, a boycott of a beer hall led to its closure after four months. Ms Sindiswa Blom [EC0517/96NWC] testified how her home was petrol-bombed by youths in December because her husband Thembekile was a police officer.

286 Consumer boycotts and work stay aways were other tactics used to further the community’s objectives – for example, the closure of the beer hall. The claim was made that, to all intents and purposes, Cradora had “seized control of Cradock” and was governing the township of Lingelihle. It clearly enjoyed widespread support from most of the township’s 20 000 residents, demonstrated by the fact that it had gained the signatures of over 80 per cent of rent-payers for its petition.

287 On 3 March 1985, at the UDF Eastern Cape’s first annual general meeting, Mr Matthew Goniwe was elected to the UDF Eastern Cape regional executive in the newly-created position of rural organiser. He helped establish civic structures in Adelaide, Fort Beaufort, Cookhouse, Kirkwood, Hanover, Colesburg, Alexandria, Kenton-on-Sea, Steytlerville, Motherwell and Noupoort. Civic and youth organisations in many of these towns used the same methods as organisations in

Cradock: boycotts of beer halls and schools and various forms of pressure on BLA councillors and police officers.

288 The effectiveness of Goniwe’s organisational methods did not go unnoticed by the state. The security forces perceived Cradock – and Goniwe in particular – to be the epicentre of revolutionary organisation in the sub-region; General Joffel van der Westhuizen later testified to the second inquest into Goniwe’s death that Cradock was considered to be the ‘flashpoint’ (brandpunt) of the revolutionary onslaught. The security forces consequently targeted both Goniwe and his ‘comrades’, and established or supported conservative forces in neighbouring towns in an attempt to break the organisational influence of Cradock.

289 It appears that a decision of top-level security force members resulted in the harsh repressive measures adopted in Cradock to deal with the schools boycott. However, banning of meetings, detention and ‘listing’ of leaders, and trials for public violence and arson of many young activists during 1984 did not have the desired effect, and organising continued to spread. Moreover, acts of violence escalated in the absence of respected leadership. In January 1985, the entire Lingelihle Council resigned and were accepted back into the community. They were the first Eastern Cape black local authority to resign. Many others were to follow.

290 Ms Novakela Doris Hermans was a councillor in Cradock from 1978 until 1984. At the Cradock hearing in 1997, she explained the background to the problem of rents in Cradock in 1984. She said that nobody from the community came to her to say that they did not want the council any more. In April 1984, her house was petrol-bombed twice; her elderly mother subsequently died. Hermans was forced into hiding: “My children were innocent; my parents were innocent. I was the councillor. But my family had to pay.” She later resigned with the other councillors. When the police asked her if Mr Matthew Goniwe had pressured her to resign, she replied that he was in prison and was not responsible for her resignation. She was later accepted back into the community, but her house was burnt down again after Goniwe’s death.

291 Violence in Cradock escalated again in February 1985. A number people died in the conflict. Some were police officers, stabbed or ‘necklaced’; others were youth who were shot by police. In early April 1985, the schools boycott was called off, despite the refusal of the DET to reinstate Goniwe and Calata.

292 The ‘Cradock Four’ died on 27 June 1985 (see below) and were buried under the Communist Party flag in Cradock on 21 July. At midnight that night, the first partial state of emergency was declared, covering most of the Eastern Cape. Violence escalated again, partly due to the loss of trusted leadership. Many more people were killed in Lingelihle in the following three years, either shot by police or ‘necklaced’ by ‘comrades’.

293 The pattern of events in Cradock in the mid-1980s was replicated with variations in many other small Eastern Cape towns: the building of community organisations, actions such as schools and consumer boycotts, the resignation of the black local authorities, action by security forces (police, municipal police, and sometimes state-aided vigilantes), the escalation of violence, the imposition of the state of emergency, the removal of leadership and the crushing of organisation.

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