TRC evidence to be used in double murder probe

Police say they’ll use testimony from the TRC in their probe into the deaths of two young men.

Police on Tuesday said they would be using testimony from the TRC in their investigation into the deaths of two young men who went missing 24 years ago. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is being blamed for the deaths. Picture:Taurai Maduna/EWN

SOWETO - Police intend using testimony from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in their investigation into the deaths of two young men, officials said on Tuesday.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) yesterday exhumed remains believed to belong to Corlett "Lolo" Sono and Siboniso Shabalala. The pair have been missing for over 24 years.

The bodies were buried as unidentified persons in 1988 after they were found in an open field with several stab wounds.

In 2012, an investigator from the police's Missing Person's Unit found records and photographs taken by mortuary officials in 1988 of men who were identified by family members as Sono and Shabalala. The families then gave the go-ahead for the exhumation.

The young men were last seen at Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's Soweto home and appeared to have been severely beaten.

Shabalala's mother named Madikizela-Mandela her son's killer in her testimony at the TRC.

Other witnesses described how "Mama Winnie" participated in whippings of Sono with a sjambok, accusing him of being a spy.

In 1997, Sono's father also told the commission his son had been beaten up and that Madikizela-Mandela told him that his son was an apartheid spy. He has since passed away.

Police spokesperson Tumi Shai said: "The procedure of investigations does not side-line any type of information that is gathered, therefore everything that is put forward will be utilised accordingly.

She told Eyewitness News they plan to launch a murder investigation now that the bodies have been found.

Once the face of South African resistance to white minority rule, the "Mother of the Nation" fell from grace in the 1980s as she became more militant in her fight against apartheid and increasingly paranoid about activists turning traitor.

The TRC, a body set up to investigate apartheid-era atrocities, found that Madikizela-Mandela and her former security detail, known as the Mandela United Football Club, had killed 18 people in Soweto, the sprawling township that served as the epicentre of anti-apartheid resistance.

In 1991, she was convicted of kidnapping and assaulting a minor who later died. Her jail sentence was reduced to a fine the following year.

(Additional reporting by Reuters)