The Cradock Four
Plot Summary The story of one of Apartheid's most heinous assassinations
Matthew Goniwe was a popular schoolteacher in a small South African rural town. His inspirational community leadership in resisting Apartheid resulted in the government secretly ordering his "permanent removal from society".

As the Eastern Cape region "went up in flames" a secret police death squad abducted Matthew with three colleagues and brutally murdered them.

Goniwe produced excellent results as a teacher, and he introduced discipline. He had been politicised by the death in a guerrilla skirmish of his elder brother Jacques, who had returned to fight Apartheid. Matthew had also spent four years in jail for possessing banned communist literature, feared by the regime as "the Red Danger".

In the small farming town of Cradock, in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, Matthew turned community outrage with high rents and bad roads into an effective Cradock Residents' Association (Cradora). But the Security Police connived to transfer the troublesome teacher out of town. When he refused, he was suspended.

This resulted in a schools boycott, which spread countrywide. Matthew was also organising for the United Democratic Front, a grouping of more than 500 organisations opposed to Apartheid, and he was working underground for both the communist party and the armed wing of the banned African National Congress.

Matthew's contribution was to set up alternative structures in the "townships", creating, in effect, a "liberated zone". This was known as the "G Plan" and would become a model throughout South Africa, and lead to the demise of Apartheid.

But the generals had decided that Matthew was too dangerous. Late on the winter night of 27 June 1985, South Africa's Security Forces set up a roadblock near Port Elizabeth, and abducted Matthew and three other activists, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkonto and Sicelo Mhlauli. They murdered them in cold blood, then burnt the bodies. "The Cradock Four", as they came to be known, were later found near the Port Elizabeth suburb of Bluewater Bay. The murders were one of Apartheid's murkiest and most controversial episodes.

The film shows the oppressive climate of the sombre racist regime in the seventies and early eighties. It shows how the system broke the freedom, and the lives, of four young men. Using compelling archive materials, interviews and dramatic recreations, the film reveals the ideals which led Matthew and his friends to support the liberation struggle, The assassinations signalled the "Beginning of the End" of the racist Apartheid regime. Within five years Nelson Mandela would walk free, and later lead the country to liberation in 1994.

It is now 25 years since the death of the Cradock Four. Despite two inquests and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, no-one has yet been prosecuted.
DirectorDavid Forbes
ProducerDavid Forbes
Genres Action Black Crime Documentary Foreign Language Historical Thriller TV War
Running time92 minutes
Production CompanyShadow Films
LocationCradock, South Africa
Financial OverviewNational Film & Video Foundation R200 000.00 ICTV-Solferino €20000.00 The rest was Self-financed
BudgetZA Rands 2.5-million, yet it won Best SA Documentary at Durban International Film Festival in 2010, where it was also nominated for an Amnesty International Human Rights Award, and was nominated for Best Documentary Script (Muse Awards 2015) and Best Cine
FormatHDCam & Archive
Known Crew crew
David Forbes Archive Producer, Archive Researcher, Camera Operator (HD), Cinematographer, Development Producer, Development Researcher, Director, Director (Self Shooting), Director of Photography, Editor, Editor (Final Cut Pro), Editor (Offline), Executive Producer, P
Adrian Boerlage Camera Assistant
Oliver Lafuma Composer
Richard Green Line Producer
Violaine Harchin Line Producer
Diana Cilliers Production Designer
Birrie Le Roux Production Designer
Brent Quinn Script Editor
Mzukisi Mtshiselo Sound Recordist
Mickey Kirsten Special Effects Supervisor
Known Cast cast
Sandile Ntombela Fort Calata
Ayanda Tafo Matthew Goniwe
Robert Chute Minister Adriaan Vlok
Leon Els Security #2 Lt Eric Taylor
Anton Nel Security Policeman # 1 Sakkie van Zyl
Monelisi Magadla Sicelo Mhlauli
Monde Bambelo Sparrow Mkonto
Noluthando Mathe Woman stripping AK 47
Known Companies company
Shadow Films production company

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