South African authorities today exhumed two bodies believed to be anti-apartheid activists, whose killings were linked to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the ex-wife of former President Nelson Mandela.
The exhumation of the graves that may contain the remains of Lolo Sono and Siboniso Shabalala was conducted by the National Prosecuting Authority’s Missing Persons Task Team and the police’s Victim Identification Center, according to footage broadcast by Johannesburg-based eNCA.
Police are reinvestigating the deaths of the two, who served as couriers for the ruling African National Congress’ military wing and disappeared in November 1988, the prosecuting authority said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Madikizela-Mandela was implicated in their deaths during hearings held by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up after all-race elections in 1994 to probe apartheid-era abuses. She has denied the allegations.
“Two bodies with multiple stab wounds were found in a field” in Soweto near Johannesburg, the NPA said in its statement. “The two were taken to the state mortuary and later buried as unidentified persons. Photographs of the two bodies have been positively identified by the families. DNA tests will be conducted” to confirm their identities.
Jerry Richardson, one of Madikizela-Mandela’s bodyguards, testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that he and a colleague had killed the two on Madikizela-Mandela’s orders. In its 1998 report, the commission found her accountable for gross violations of human rights and implicated her in several crimes.
Madikizela-Mandela, who Mandela divorced in 1996, described the allegations against her as “ludicrous.”