Expatica news

S.Africa re-opens probe into 1988 disappearances

South African prosecutors said Tuesday they have launched a fresh probe into the disappearance in 1988 of two youths reportedly last seen with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela.

A specialised unit investigating missing persons said it has unearthed new information about the disappeareance of Lolo Sono and Siboniso Shabalala, who went missing without trace in November 1988.

The case is one of about 500 cases of missing persons which were referred to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which probed apartheid-era crimes.

“The investigations into this case are still ongoing and possible burial sites are still being examined on the basis of recently obtained information,” Makhosini Nkosi, spokesman for the unit in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), said in a statement.

“No exact burial sites have yet been confirmed or excavated,” he added.

The mother of Sono testified to the TRC that the ex-wife of anti-aparthied hero and former president Nelson Mandela was present when she last saw her son.

The controversial Madikizela-Mandela was accused of ordering four grisly murders of youth activists, including that of Stompie Sepei, in the 1980s when she surrounded herself with bands of young male thugs christened the Mandela United Football Club.

That entourage was blamed for at least 18 deaths in the township of Soweto during the violent end to the 1980s.

Madikizela-Mandela, who attracted fame for her vocal anti-apartheid protests during the 27 years her husband spent in political detention, was sentenced to six years for the kidnapping of Sepei. The term was later scrapped on appeal and she was never jailed.

Mandela stood by her when she was convicted of kidnapping Sepei and only in 1992 announced their separation.

In 1994, her ex-husband appointed her deputy minister of arts and culture in his government, but later sacked her for insubordination.

She remains an MP and a member of the ruling African National Congress party’s national executive committee.