Twenty-three years ago, a scarlet-robed Desmond Tutu bowed his head and wept, people fainted, and cries of anguish rent the air in a packed East London City Hall as the first victims of apartheid’s grotesque death machine gave voice to their pain. The emotional thunderclap delivered by the cry of ANC activist Fort Calata’s widow, Nomonde, at the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in April 1996 echoed over the country’s radios.

Among the first of thousands of surviving victims to testify was Babalwa Mhlauli: she was just eight years old in 1985 when her father, Sicelo Mhlauli, one of the "Cradock Four" alongside Calata, was hacked to death — and his severed hand mockingly displayed in a bottle at a Port Elizabeth police station to terrify anti-apartheid detainees...

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