Mamasela changes tune on Mamelodi 10's remains

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Sunday welcomed reports that former askari Joe Mamasela has backtracked on his statement that the bodies exhumed recently by the NPA were not those of the “Mamelodi 10”.

The NPA “welcomed recent statements by ... Mamasela conceding that the remains exhumed at Winterveld cemetery two weeks ago are those of the Mamelodi 10,” NPA spokesperson Makhosini Nkosi said in a statement.

The Sunday Times reported that Mamasela has backtracked on his claim that the NPA exhumed the wrong graves in Winterveld cemetery, north-west of Pretoria, on March 21.

Nkosi said Mamasela changed his tune after a meeting with NPA officials last week.
They showed Mamasela records they had used to identify the graves of the Mamelodi 10.

“Upon examining the records, Mamasela was satisfied that the NPA had exhumed the correct graves,” Nkosi said.

Mamasela had earlier claimed that the graves might not be those of the Mamelodi 10, but could have belonged to a group of activists known as the Mamelodi Three.

Nkosi said forensic anthropologists had confirmed that the five remains exhumed at Winterveld were consistent with the post-mortem reports of the Mamelodi 10.

“It is yet to be decided whether the remains will be subjected to DNA tests to decide the identities,” Nkosi said.

The NPA plans to exhume the five remaining bodies soon.

The families of the Mamelodi 10 have suggested the remains be reburied jointly and a memorial to the 10 be erected. The 10 were young activists abducted in June 1986 by the apartheid government’s security police.

They were injected with a chemical substance and placed in a minibus. The bus was then doused with petrol and set alight.

The Winterveld exhumations follow an order by President Thabo Mbeki in April 2003 to finalise missing person cases that arose from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The commission was established to investigate apartheid-era crimes and human rights abuses.—Sapa

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