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Question of the Day
“Does it add up to a conspiracy or not that investigations were not being pursued when they could be pursued?” he asked.
This time, the two new murder dockets have been opened by the Hawks, the police priority investigative unit, Capt. Paul Ramaloko told The Associated Press.
He said there had been no investigation since the original case was opened in 1988 and closed soon after.
“It’s too early to be saying if we have suspects or not,” Capt. Ramaloko, the Hawks spokesman, said, but he added they were asking anyone with information about what happened 24 years ago to come forward.
Asked if investigators would be questioning Ms. Madikizela-Mandela, he said: “At this stage we don’t have an affidavit or statement guiding us to that direction, but should it transpire at a later stage, we would obviously do the right thing. … Whoever the investigation identifies as the suspect in this case, we would obviously bring the person forth to answer some questions.”
At the truth commission, Nicodemus Sono, father of one of the missing men, described how Ms. Madikizela-Mandela had come to his home with his son held at gunpoint and his face bruised from beatings, in November 1988. Mr. Sono said she had demanded photographs and documents, telling the father that his son was a spy for the apartheid police.
Mr. Sono had begged her to give him back his son, but he said she had driven away, saying “the movement” would decide what to do with him.
“I would request Winnie to give Siboniso back to me. I want Siboniso or his bones and remains,” she said. “She knows, deep inside of her, she knows. I’d like to find out as the where my son has been buried.”
On Tuesday, Ms. Tshabalala stood with a stern face at the grave site at Avalon Cemetery as scientists wielding miniature trowels and paint brushes delicately uncovered a skeleton caked in red clay.
Madeleine Fullard, head of the missing persons department of the National Prosecuting Authority, cautioned the families that DNA tests must be done and it could be months before a definitive identification is made. Family members already have submitted DNA samples.
Ms. Fullard said her team stumbled on mortuary records a year ago that led to Tuesday’s exhumation. An anthropologist in search of other records came across a document indicating the bodies of two young men with multiple stab wounds had been found lying in a field the day after the young men had disappeared. Those bodies had been buried in a paupers’ grave with others at Avalon.
The scientists then searched through “hundreds, hundreds and more hundreds” of dusty archived dockets before they found the photographs of the bodies found in the field. All bodies brought to mortuaries are routinely photographed.
When they took the photos to the families and the young men were identified, everyone cried, including the scientists, Ms. Fullard said.
In 1991, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was sentenced to six years in jail for kidnapping and assault in the death of 14-year-old James Seipei “Stompie” Moeketsi, who also had last been seen at her home and who was beaten to death. She appealed, the assault conviction was overturned, and the sentence was reduced to a suspended jail term.
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