Remains of cadres dug up after 25 years
The remains of four former Umkhonto we Sizwe cadres who were killed and buried in Limpopo 25 years ago were exhumed in an emotionally-charged ceremony yesterday.
The exhumation took place in Tshikota township near Louis Trichardt.
The process follows a recommendation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that all people who disappeared at the hands of the security police be traced so they can be reburied.
The four were buried as unidentified paupers.
They were identified as Lesley Moatshe, who went by the combat name of Vusi, Joseph Ditaba Tshinga, who was known as Stoney or Thabo Mopedi, Jeffrey Tholi Ramokopelwa, known then as Daniel April.
The identity of the fourth body will be released after confirmation of DNA tests.
Moatshe and Tshinga came from Soweto, while Ramokopelwa was from a village near Rustenburg.
The victims were allegedly shot dead while walking on a privately owned farm in Alldays outside Polokwane on November 10 1983.
According to Madeline Fullard, head of the TRC's missing persons task team, the four had infiltrated the area after undergoing military training.
They were allegedly spotted while travelling through the farm. Workers who saw them notified the farmer, who called members of the SA Defence Force.
The four were shot execution-style and buried in a shallow grave on the farm.
A month after they were killed their bodies were sent to Tshikota, where they were buried as unidentified paupers.
Yesterday's event was attended by the families of the three identified victims, with a team of forensic experts conducting the exhumation.
Fullard said they were still gathering information on the bodies and what actually happened before they died..
"We do not rule out the possibility of initiating prosecutions if it becomes clear through forensic investigations that a crime was committed," Fullard said.
She said the TRC process had recovered postmortem documents that claimed the four had died of natural causes.
About 50 bodies of cadres of liberation movements have been exhumed, some of whom are still awaiting DNA results.