The NPA's Missing Persons Task Team opened 200 graves to find the Mamelodi 10

Madeleine Fullard, the head of the National Prosecuting Authority of SA's (NPA) Missing Persons Task Team, leads a team of investigators searching South Africa for the remains of political activists.

Fullard explains that the TRC recommended that government must continue trying to trace what happened to people who disappeared during political circumstances between 1960 and 1994.

For this reason the Missing Person's Task Team is located in the NPA because that is what The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended due to the potential link to prosecutions.

The Missing Persons Task Team is both an investigative and forensics unit. Fullard says her team is made of ten people, seven investigators and three forensic anthropologists who specialise in the human skeleton. After so many years, her teams predominantly deals with skeletonised human remains.

At the end of the TRC there were hundreds of cases that were left unresolved, there is a list of nearly five hundred people. To this day we still have families coming forward with legitimate cases of political disappearances.

Madeleine Fullard, head of the National Prosecuting Authority of SA (NPA) Missing Persons Task Team

Fullard explains that her job involves amongst other things solving two kinds of cases.

The first are cases were the perpetrators secretly dispose of the victims and individuals in a place and manner only known to them. Fullard uses Phemelo Ntehelang as example.

Phemelo Ntehelang, killed at Vlakplaas. He was taken and buried in a field on a private farm near Zeerust. We were never in a million years going to find his remains without information being provided by Eugene De Kock and other Vlakplaas operatives.

Madeleine Fullard, head of the National Prosecuting Authority of SA (NPA) Missing Persons Task Team

Also read: NPA to exhume remains of 83 hanged political prisoners

But the second type forms the bulk of their cases she says.

Cases where after people were killed, were left in public spaces and inevitably got found, taken to a mortuary and are not identified and they follow the normal bureaucratic processes of any unidentified person.

Madeleine Fullard, head of the National Prosecuting Authority of SA (NPA) Missing Persons Task Team

For more on this riveting conversation take a listen:

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