Apartheid's lingering ghost ensures that repatriation processes in South Africa are complex. Apartheid ideology not only separated black and white, but also made ethnicity the prime identity for Africans, many of whom internalised it. South Africa's ethicised past ensured that the process of repatriating Mapungubwe human remains was framed in ethnic terms. This resulted in quarrels between claimant communities, who tried to authenticate their claims by proving sole ownership of the human remains. In this potentially volatile context archaeologists were not only negotiating responsible repatriation, but also had to consider their role in a divided present, as squabbles over repatriation could harm both the dead and the living. Fluid group membership involved in the negotiation for the return of human remains from Mapungubwe meant that it would be difficult to exclude any claimants. It was therefore agreed that conflicting oral traditions should be viewed as equal, even when not supported by archaeological data. This acceptance of multivocality resulted in a joint claim by representatives of the Mapungubwe descendants.