30 August 2020
The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) expresses its sincerest condolences to the family of Cde Nyameka Goniwe, the wife of late political activist and teacher Matthew Goniwe - one of the "Cradock Four" who were brutally murdered by apartheid security forces in 1985.
Cde Nyameka's death has come at a time when the country is celebrating women's month and honouring women for the role they play in uplifting their communities. Sadly, Cde Nyameka is one of the many women in South Africa who has not been properly honoured for her sacrifices and contribution to the freedom of this country. SADTU honours Nyameka for being "the wind beneath the wings" of Goniwe by keeping the family fires burning while he was hounded and persecuted by security police. In their ten-year marriage, Goniwe was jailed and sentenced to four years in jail. Nyameka always stood by his side. They had two children.
After his release from jail, Goniwe, engaged in community activities in Cradock's Langelihle Township and fought against unfair high rents whilst he was the principal of Sam Xhalile High School. His fight against this injustice in his community cost him his teaching career. On 27 January 1984, Goniwe was fired for refusing to accept a transfer to Graaf-Reinet which was meant to remove him from Cradock where he was engaged civic activities. His firing sparked a boycott of schools in Cradock which lasted for 15 months. Riots broke out as students demanded his reinstatement.
SADTU honoured Matthew Goniwe by naming its headquarters after him. He was subjected to constant harassment, threats, detention and torture by security police. On 27 June 1985, Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkonto and Scelo Mhlauli (known as the Cradock Four) were abducted from a car in which they were driving. About a week later, their burnt and mutilated bodies were found outside Port Elizabeth. An inquest found they had been killed by unknown persons.
Nyameka, together with the other widows, fought tirelessly to find the killers of their husbands. An inquest was reopened in 1993 and it was found that the security forces were responsible for their deaths. They also testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In 1997, six members of the Port Elizabeth security police applied for amnesty before the TRC for the killing of the Cradock Four.
May her soul rest in peace.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157