The department of justice will leave no stone unturned in its search for missing anti-apartheid freedom fighters, deputy minister Andries Nel said on Friday.

Seventy-seven bodies had already been found, Nel said.

He was talking at the handing-over ceremony of the remains of activist Xolile Sam to his family in Port Elizabeth.

“Today, we are here to honour our pledge that we will leave no stone unturned in searching for missing persons through the Missing Persons Task Team.”

The task team was established in 2002 after recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Sam, who was also known as MK Valdez Mbhata, was shot and wounded on November 7, 1988 when he was seen jumping over a wall by Vlakplaas unit member Leon Flores.

Former apartheid police hit squad leader Eugene de Kock then handcuffed him to a metal seat inside a police truck, where Sam was tortured so the police could obtain information from him.

He died inside the truck and was buried as an unidentified pauper in a separate pauper section of Vosloorus cemetery.

“Today we say thank you to Xolile Sam for your unwavering commitment to the freedom of our people,” said Nel.

A funeral will be held for Sam at Ithubelihle High School on Friday. - Sapa