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TRACING SOUTH AFRICA’S POLITICAL ‘DISAPPEARED’: THE WORK OF THE MISSING PERSONS TASK TEAM IN THE NATIONAL PROSECUTING AUTHORITY

Madeleine Fullard, Head: Missing Persons Task Team, National Prosecuting Authority

The work of locating, identifying and returning human remains using forensic science has become a key characteristic of societies’ attempts to reckon with the aftermaths of political violence. This course will give an overview of the work of the Missing Persons Task Team (MPTT), a unit in the National Prosecuting Authority mandated to trace the fate and whereabouts of those who were ‘disappeared’ or went missing in political circumstances between 1960 and 1994. The MPTT, made up of both investigators and forensic anthropologists, has to date recovered the remains of over 150 persons. The first lecture will focus largely on the MPTT’s investigation methodology and sources, with examples of solved and unsolved cases. The second will focus on the work of excavation, exhumation, forensic examination and DNA testing. Both lectures will highlight forensic and ethical dilemmas involved.

 

LECTURE TITLES

1. Investigating political disappearances in South Africa

2. Recovering the remains of the disappeared

 

Recommended reading

Dziuban, Z. 2017. ‘Introduction: Forensics in the Expanded Field’ in Dziuban, Z. (ed) Mapping the ‘Forensic Turn’ - Engagements with Materialities of Mass Death in Holocaust Studies and Beyond.  Vienna: New Academic Press.

Rousseau, N. 2009. ‘The Farm, the River and the Picnic Spot: Topographies of Terror’ in African Studies, 68, 3, December 2009.

Rassool, C. 2015. ‘Human Remains, the Disciplines of the Dead, and the South African Memorial Complex’ in  D.R. Peterson, K. Gavua and C. Rassool (eds), The Politics of Heritage in Africa: Economies, Histories and Infrastructures. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Alonso, A.D., Galbraith P.D. and Nienass, B. 2016. ‘Bringing the Dead Back into Society: An Interview with Mercedes Doretti’, Social Research, 83, 2, 2016.

 

 

Date: Wednesday 8–Thursday 9 January 
Time: 1.00pm
COURSE FEES: Full R236 Staff & Students R118
Venue: LT3 Kramer Law Building UCT