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Winnie Mandela May Face Fresh Murder Probe
The former wife of Nelson Mandela is facing fresh allegations over the deaths of two ANC activists.
Forensic scientists have exhumed two bodies from a cemetery in Soweto.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, revered by some as "the mother of the nation", has already been found responsible by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the disappearance of the men 24 years ago.
However, until now nothing has been done to pursue allegations that she was directly involved in the killings of Lolo Sono, 21, and Sibuniso Tshabalala, 19.
This is despite her chief bodyguard, Jerry Richardson, telling the commission he and a colleague stabbed the young men to death on her orders.
Forensic scientists have now unearthed two bodies that mortuary records indicate had multiple stab wounds - and the police have opened a new murder investigation.
In front of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Mrs Madikizela-Mandela denied all knowledge of the two men and said allegations that she was involved in six other killings were rubbish.
Mr Richardson was head of the Mandela United Football Club, a group of young men who acted as Mrs Madikizela-Mandela's bodyguards and which, it has been alleged, she used to get rid of her enemies.
On Tuesday, the African National Congress party orchestrated the ceremony to uncover skeletal remains believed to belong to Mr Sono and Mr Tshabalala.
John Sono, the uncle of Lolo Sono, said: "We are getting some relief because we know that we are closing the chapter of 'we don't know' and we are opening the chapter of 'here lies our son'."
Piers Pigou is the senior investigator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission who cross-examined Mrs Madikizela-Mandela during its hearings.
He said: "I think the standard of proof used by the Truth Commission basically established prima facie (enough evidence to prosecute) cases against Mrs Mandela and members of the Mandela United Football Club, including in the disappearances of Sono and Tshabalala."
Mr Pigou said he found it particularly distressing to know the men's bodies had been taken to the mortuary the day after they disappeared, and the police were unable to link them to the two missing men who were being desperately sought by their families.
The commission, which is headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, lambasted police investigations into the disappearances of the men, who were last seen at Mrs Madikizela-Mandela's home in November 1988.
Mr Pigou said there was a "pattern of incredibly incompetent investigations" with an "enormous number of missing dockets".
"Does it add up to a conspiracy or not that investigations were not being pursued when they could be pursued?" he asked.
This time, the two new murder dockets have been opened by the Hawks, the police priority investigative unit.
Captain Paul Ramaloko, a Hawks spokesman, said it was too early to say whether they had suspects or would be interviewing Mrs Madikizela-Mandela.
In 1991, she was sentenced to six years in prison for kidnapping and assault in the death of 14-year-old James Seipei "Stompie" Moeketsi, who also had last been seen at her home in 1988.
She appealed, the assault conviction was overturned and the sentence was reduced to a suspended jail term.
Mrs Madikizela-Mandela separated from Mr Mandela in 1992, two years after he was released from 27 years of incarceration. Their divorce was finalised in 1996.