/ 8 May 2008

Bones of Pebco Three to be examined

Bones collected from an Eastern Cape farm suspected to be that of the Pebco Three will be examined, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Thursday.

”The bones will be examined in May by a team of forensic anthropologists including Dr Steve Symes from Mercyhurst College in USA and other experts,” the NPA said.

The NPA said it found around 12kg of bone material, identified out of 250kg of burnt material comprising wood, charcoal, tyre, glass and other items of a ballistic nature obtained in July and August last year at Post Chalmers farm outside Cradock.

”A meticulous process of drying, sifting and classifying burnt material lasted for over three months.”

The NPA said the farm was an excavation site where the remains of the Pebco Three were thought to have been disposed of.

The trio — Sipho Hashe, Qaqawuli Godolozi and Champion Galela — were members of the Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation (Pebco).

They were kidnapped at the Port Elizabeth airport in 1985 by the apartheid-era security police and subsequently murdered on the farm.

Two others, Siphiwo Mthimkhulu and Topsy Madaka, who were abducted in April 1982, were also feared to have been killed in the same place, said the NPA.

The NPA said 60 teeth were recovered out of the burnt material and were taken in January to forensic odontologist Dr Vince Phillips of the University of Western Cape Dental Faculty.

”Phillips examined the teeth and has provided a report regarding minimum number of individuals the teeth represent as well as other physical data. DNA samples have been taken from the affected families for possible comparison with the bones uncovered.”

According to the NPA, Symes, a world expert on bone injury and burnt bones, will also conduct a final review of the 10 skeletal remains which were exhumed in Mamelodi, Pretoria, from the Winterveld cemetery in 2005.

”Protracted DNA testing conducted in 2006 produced mixed and inconclusive results. Dr Symes will meet with the mothers of the Mamelodi 10 after this,” said the NPA. – Sapa