From 1960 to 1994, political violence resulted in the forced disappearance of around 2,000 people in South Africa. A major cause was the program of moving non-white residents out of white neighbourhoods, as well as government crackdowns on protestors and dissidents. Until the end of apartheid no large-scale effort was made to address the issue of the missing.
Since then, resolving the fate of the disappeared has been seen as a key element in the Truth and Reconciliation process and the long-term effort to remedy injustices committed during the apartheid era.
ICMP cooperates with the South African Missing Persons Task Team of the Office of the National Prosecuting Authority and has provided DNA testing and DNA identification match reports on victims of forced disappearance.
The ICMP additionally cooperates with the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) Victim Identification Unit for DNA analysis of cases of unidentified human remains, where ICMP’s specialized capabilities complement those of the SAPS in particularly challenging cases. These missing persons cases can be related to homicide and other crimes, and the ICMP has provided expert testimony on its procedures and DNA science at the South Africa High Court in one such case.