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Apartheid-era remains crushed by machines

September 14, 2017 10:16 AM
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Heavy machinery used to dig up apartheid-era mass graves in Namibia has destroyed evidence needed to identify the scores of bodies buried there.

Authorities said on Tuesday that South African forensic experts were working to identify the bullet-riddled bodies found in the graves, which are believed to date back to a 1989 battle between the South West African People's Organisation and South African security forces.

More than 300 people were reported killed in the battle in northern Namibia, which occurred a year before the country won independence from white-ruled South Africa. All the bodies in the grave are believed to be those of Swapo guerrillas.

Peter Mwatile, the permanent secretary in Namibia's ministry of safety and security, said investigators had concluded that workers operating heavy equipment, including Caterpillar earthmovers, had destroyed evidence during the digging process.

"They could not get all the skeletons to complete a human being. Some of the bones were broken by these caterpillars," Mwatile said.

The South African forensic team has asked Namibian authorities to develop a strategy on how to proceed with identification of the bodies.

A committee is expected to present a proposal to the Namibian government in the near future.


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