Khulumani, the apartheid victims reparations group, set out on Sunday to exhume the bodies of 10 boys "recruited" and killed in 1986 by Joe Mamasela, a Vlakplaas askari, and buried in Makaunyane cemetery.
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A busload of relatives travelled from Mamelodi to Winterveld for the occasion. "I feel very hurt," said Catherine Phiri on Sunday as she stood beside her elderly father, Peterson, his head shaded under a jacket. They watched as a mechanical claw scraped at the red soil of Makaunyane cemetery in Winterveld in Gauteng.
Phiri's brother, Thomas, disappeared at the age of 22 in 1986 in the Nietverdiend area near the Botswana border. "It was the last time I saw him," said Catherine. "I was sending him to the market. When he came back he was going to play football. "I was standing at the corner when I called him, and then I saw the combi, just standing at the corner. I asked Thomas: 'What's that man with the combi doing?' "Thomas said he was going to build a football team. Thomas said: 'I'll come just now, we just want to speak to this man.'
"The man was identified in truth commission hearings as Mamasela, with an unidentified accomplice. "Until now I wait to see him," said Catherine of her youngest brother. Mamasela later drugged the boys and set fire to the combi with the boys inside. Three men from Maupa undertakers buried the unidentified charred bodies in 1986 and were on hand to point out the grave site. The search was in vain, however.
The disappearance of the grave numbers confused them and no remains were found. Rudy Mphela, a national field worker for Khulumani, said the organisation would have to return to review documentation at the attorney-general's office in order to find the boys' bodies. "I thought we were going to exhume my little brother and bury him in Mamelodi," said Catherine. She and other victims' relatives boarded the bus silently, the deaths of their loved ones still a painful mystery.
- Source: Full article "Bodies of missing men not found" appeared on the Independant Online iol.co.za website