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Fort Calata (19? -1985)

The Order of Luthuli in

Fort Calata (19? -1985) Awarded for:
For outstanding contribution and dedicating his life to a free, just and democratic South Africa.
Profile of Fort Calata

Fort Calata was born during the period when his grandfather was the General Secretary of the ANC. His political genesis was marked through his name Fort, which was given to him by his grandmother because his grandfather was detained at the Fort Prison when he was born.

Calata was first detained for writing a letter to the Cradock municipality complaining about the working conditions in 1976. He was arrested again while teaching in Dimbasa in 1979 but his wife Nomonde Calata whom he married in 1980 told the TRC hearings in 1996 that she could not recollect what he was arrested for.

Calata befriended a new teacher by the name Matthew Goniwe in Dimbasa in 1983. Calata and Goniwe formed a resident’s organisation in Cradock named Cradock Residents Association (Cradora) tasked with negotiation for a reduction of rental fees in Cradock. Calata was appointed the treasurer of Cradora. Calata joined the United Democratic Front (UDF), which proved to be a stronger force at the time.

On the 31 March 1984, Calata was arrested at his home and detained for six months at the Diepkloof Prison in Johannesburg in terms of the Internal Security Act.

Calata’s family was continuously victimised by the police for their involvement with the UDF.

In 1985, Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlawuli were abducted, assaulted and brutally killed by the Apartheid police while returning from a meeting in Port Elizabeth in what has become known as the killing of the Cradock four.