Sex, lies and DNA: if you’re a Botha, you could be an Appel

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Sex, lies and DNA: if you’re a Botha, you could be an Appel

A University of Pretoria molecular genetics study has found that some ‘Bothas’ in SA have the wrong surname

Jaco Greeff

Headlines about molecular genetics being used to shed new light on old mysteries or put criminals behind bars have become increasingly common.

In SA DNA is being used to answer important questions about everything from a group of people’s origins to the biological paternity of a child.

However, paternity tests aren’t just applicable to modern cases. Fellow researcher Christoff Erasmus and I considered DNA evidence to understand a divorce case dating back 321 years. The events before and after the divorce of Maria Kickers had long-term consequences for a family with a surname that, for decades, appeared often among the country’s white leaders. That name is Botha...

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