SABC’s decisions fly in the face of what many, like the Cradock 4, sacrificed

Cradock Four
Cradock Four

SABC journalist Lukhanyo Calata speaks out on the "disturbing direction" being taken by his employers

Today marks 31 years since the murders of my father Fort Calata and his comrades Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli.

Known as the “Cradock Four”, the killings and funeral on July 20 1985 became a turning point in the struggle for liberation with apartheid president PW Botha invoking a state of emergency that was to last for years.

I made the decision to become a journalist after years of watching journalists coming to our home as part of their drive to tell the story of my father and his comrades.

31 years later, I now work as a news reporter, with the sole purpose of telling stories of my people with dedication, truth and freedom. A freedom that many like my father either died or were imprisoned for.

It is therefore with great sadness that I am confronted with the disturbing direction being taken by my employers. A direction I believe flies in the face of what many have sacrificed.

The decisions taken recently by the SABC cannot be described in any other way but them being a curbing of media freedom. A freedom to report ethically, truthfully and without bias.

As I reflect on this day and remember the occasions when leaders of our liberation movements stood at my father’s grave and waxed lyrical about the freedom he died for, I wonder where they are today.

How do they live with themselves? How do they watch as the rights and freedoms the Cradock Four were brutally murdered for are systematically being undone?

Did I live without a father so that 31 years later, my own freedom and that of my colleagues is restricted within an institution that is meant to lead in media freedom?

What do I say to the son I have today about what his grandfather and great grandfather, James Arthur Calata, fought for?

I do not do this publicly to condemn my employers but rather seek to remind some of them and all of us, that we cannot forget that people like my father and many others died for us to have the right to speak truth to power when necessary.

They died so that we can do what is expected of us, which is to lead where they left off; to serve this nation with pride, truth, dedication and ethics.

Lukhanyo Calata is a parliamentary journalist for the SABC
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