Minister to hand over remains to families

Friday, September 11, 2009

Port Elizabeth - The families of the PEBCO three will finally find closure when Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe hands over the remains of their loved ones.

Radebe will on Saturday hand over the remains of Sipho Hashe, Champion Galela and Qaqawuli Godolozi, along with the remains of two Congress of South African Student (COSAS) members, Topsy Madaka and Siphiwo Mtimkhulu to their families, for burial.

The remains of the three Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation members were exhumed at the Post Chalmers Farm near Cradock in the Eastern Cape by the Missing Persons Task Team.

The unit was established within the National Prosecuting Authority to locate the human remains or whereabouts of people who disappeared under mysterious political circumstances during the apartheid era and where those cases had been reported to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The COSAS two and PEBCO three activists were abducted by members of the Eastern Cape Security Police in 1982 and 1985 respectively.

They were taken to the Post Chalmers Farm, where they were interrogated, tortured, drugged and shot dead. Their bodies were then burnt on a wood fire.

The security police perpetrators, during their amnesty applications, told the TRC that the burnt 'ashes' of these activists were then removed and thrown into the Fish River.

However, exhumations at the farm located large quantities of burnt fragmented human remains and associated artefacts including bullets, pieces of tyre and clothing fragments in a large, shallow pit and in a nearby underground septic tank.

The government mobilised necessary resources to ensure that all leads are pursued and employed highly skilled specialists to support the team that worked relentlessly on these cases in an effort to assist the families to find emotional closure to the wounds that probably never healed since the 1980s.

The outcomes of the investigations and the scientific verifications conducted have been accepted by the families.