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“One of my mother’s biggest regrets was that she never got to see my father’s body.” Read an excerpt from Lukhanyo & Abigail Calata’s My Father Died for This

When the Cradock Four’s Fort Calata was murdered by agents of the apartheid state in 1985, his son Lukhanyo was only three years old.

Thirty-one years later Lukhanyo, now a journalist, becomes one of the SABC Eight when he defies Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s reign of censorship at the public broadcaster by writing an open letter that declares: my father didn’t die for this.

Now, with his wife Abigail, Lukhanyo brings to life the father he never knew and investigates the mystery that surrounds his death despite two high-profile inquests.

Join them in a poignant and inspiring journey into the history of a remarkable family that traces the struggle against apartheid beginning with Fort’s grandfather, Rivonia trialist and ANC Secretary-General Rev James Calata.

Lukhanyo Calata is a television journalist, who worked for eNCA before joining the SABC’s parliamentary office. He lives in Cape Town.

Abigail Calata is a journalist who has worked for Beeld as a political reporter and parliamentary correspondent, Die Burger and the University of Cape Town’s Law Faculty. She lives in Cape Town.

Read an excerpt from the Calata’s powerful book, as published in the Daily Maverick:

My mother remembered a heavy fatigue descending on her as day broke on 20 July. “On the day of the funeral, I was tired,” she said. “I was so very tired. And I was not myself. I was just surrounded by darkness.”

That morning, she would defiantly wear a dress in the black, green, and gold colours of the ANC.

The remains arrived in Cradock quite early that Saturday morning. My father’s coffin was brought and placed on the stoep of Tatou’s home, almost on the exact spot where his grandfather’s coffin had stood just two years previously. The remains of the other three men were taken to their respective homes.

Paul Verryn would insist that the coffin with my father’s remains not be opened, in a bid to shield my mother from the trauma of seeing her husband’s badly mutilated body.

On my father’s death certificate, the cause of death is ascribed to “stab wounds to the heart and the consequences thereof”. What it neglects to mention is the number of times he was stabbed – at least 25 times. It also doesn’t mention that his tongue and several fingers on his left hand were cut off. His body, and in particular his face, was then doused with petrol and set alight – to make identification difficult.

Despite this, one of my mother’s biggest regrets was that she never got to see my father’s body.

Continue reading here.

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