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Special Report
Transcripts for Section 3 of Episode 84

10:44On the night of June 27, 1985 Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto, Fort Calata and Sicelo Mhlauli left a UDF meeting in Port Elizabeth and set out to drive home to Cradock. They were never seen alive again. Their mutilated, charred corpses were discovered days later in three different places along the Eastern Cape coastline. Who killed the Cradock Four? The Special Report has been asking that question since our very first broadcast in April 1996 when we showed their widows testifying before the Human Rights Violations Committee. Last week we covered the story of the six men who have applied for amnesty for the killing. This week their hearings continued in Port Elizabeth.Full Transcript and References
11:30On Monday the widows of the Cradock Four came back to Centenary Hall in Port Elizabeth at the start of second week of testimony from their husband’s killers. Last week they heard from Sakkie van Zyl who was the captain in charge of the operation on that fateful June night in 1985.Full Transcript
11:50Col van Rensburg’s words to me were that a drastic plan should be made very quickly with these particular people and that I accepted to mean that they should be eliminated. Full Transcript
12:10They also heard from Nic van Rensburg who passed the execution order down from Harold Snyman to the men who would carry it out. This week there was more detail from Eric Taylor and Gerhard Lotz, who together with Sakkie van Zyl stopped their victims on the road from Port Elizabeth to Cradock and took them to deserted sand dunes where, with help from black security reinforcements, they executed them one by one.Full Transcript
12:40I then took one of the persons out of the vehicle while he was still cuffed and made him walk ahead of me. I had a steel spring with me, which I had brought along. While the person walked ahead of me I hit him on the back of the head with the spring after which he appeared to be unconscious or dead, he wasn’t moving. // What happened then? // The black members then stabbed the person with knives; it was with their own knives. I know that the persons were then set alight and the evidence which I have heard regarding what happened I cannot remember. I think it happened. I think at that stage I entered a stage of shock to put it that way.Full Transcript
13:45I hit Mr. Calata from behind with this heavy iron object approximately where the head joins the neck. He fell to the ground; I was under the impression that he was unconscious. Then the other black members stabbed him with knives and I set both these bodies alight. Full Transcript
14:13On Friday Eugene de Kock testified. He was not involved in the killing but heard about it from his former Koevoet colleague, Sakkie van Zyl. Van Zyl told De Kock a tale that differs from the version that he put before the Amnesty Committee.Full Transcript and References
14:28Firstly, he was in charge of the operation and then secondly, when the Goniwe Four were taken, Van Zyl took Goniwe, in other words physically during the kidnapping. If I have to explain the language used, I would be pleased. He was surprised because of the resistance offered by Goniwe. // Is that Van Zyl? // Yes. And during this resistance, this took place in the car, a shot was fired and it went through the roof of the vehicle. // Is it possible that there could be confusion when it was conveyed to you and that is perhaps how this emerged? // No, I’m quite prepared to do a polygraph test in this hall; I have no problem with this. What I’m saying here is correct.Full Transcript
15:41The big question facing the Amnesty Committee this week is whether or not the applicants have disclosed fully. With George Bizos chipping away at their evidence from the families’ side and Eugene de Kock delivering a few powerful side swipes from his corner, serious doubts have been raised about whether or not the killers of the Cradock Four are telling the whole truth.Full Transcript
16:01The first of many doubts raised by the applicants’ testimony relates to the chain of command. According to the applicants the order to kill came from the then head of the Eastern Cape security police, Harold Snyman. But from whom did Snyman take his orders?Full Transcript
16:20You know where the idea of killing Mr. Goniwe and his colleagues was born. // I have no idea.Full Transcript
16:30In May, 1992 the New Nation newspaper published a document said to be a military signal that called for the permanent removal of Matthew Goniwe from society. That signal was sent up from Port Elizabeth’s Joint Management Committee to the State Security Council.Full Transcript
16:48What we read here is simply murder.Full Transcript
16:58The signal went up towards the State Security Council, but according to the applicants’ version it never came down again. In fact the only hint given of an order from higher up was that explained by Nic van Rensburg.Full Transcript
17:11Mr. Snyman told me that he had a private conversation with Minister Le Grange and that Le Grange had told him that the situation in the Eastern Province needed attention and should be addressed.Full Transcript
17:36It would definitely have been instructions that came from the highest levels.Full Transcript
17:45This week Harold Snyman was still too ill to testify. A second problem for the applicants is how to explain the killing of Sicelo Mhlauli. The three men targeted by Port Elizabeth security police were Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkonto and Fort Calata. But the fourth victim that night was Mhlauli. Was he killed just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time?Full Transcript
18:10If anyone were to suggest that Mr. Mhlauli was unknown to the security police in Port Elizabeth, what would you say to that? // I would have differed with that. // You would say that he was well known as a leading activist in close contact with Goniwe and others and a dangerous person. // That’s correct Chairperson. // Now Mr. Taylor it is my sad duty to tell you that the documents emanating from your office and from Oudtshoorn clearly indicates that you are deliberately committing perjury. I ask for leave to hand in, Mr. Chairman, a report made by the South African Police in Port Elizabeth to the head office as exhibit GG. Mr. Taylor, have a look at paragraph four ‘Sicelo Mhlauli (Unknown).’ If this is true a pack of lies have been told to this Committee. // This is the first time that I’ve seen this document.Full Transcript
19:35If Mhlauli was killed for no political objective, but simply because he was getting a lift home with the three targets, his killers could be denied amnesty and still find themselves serving time for his murder. In Taylor’s and Lotz’s version this was a mild, surgical execution. Yet, the condition of the bodies indicates a vicious attack. Both Taylor and Lotz were armed with knives on the night of the killing and both now claim that they did not use them.Full Transcript
20:06I want to put it to you, this is a lie. This man was slaughtered like a sheep by a group of vultures that stabbed him from all directions. What do you say to that? // Chairperson, I was there, I hit the man and that is what happened.Full Transcript
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