South Africa:Where Is Mbuyisa Makhubu The Hero Of June 16?

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Mbuyisa carried Hector Pieterson in a photograph taken by Sam Nzima
after Pieterson was shot during the Soweto Uprising in 1976.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – It’s been more than 45 years since the Makhubu family last saw MbuyisaMakhubu.Mbuyisa Makhubu, a gallant revolutionary who become a hero of the anti-Apartheid Struggle after he carried the body of Hector Pieterson who was short by police during the 1976, June 16 Soweto Uprising in Johannesburg, South Africa.It has been widely reoprted that Makhubu, a South African anti-Apartheid activist, disappeared in 1979.In the famous picture that rocked the world, Makhubu is seen carrying Hector Pieterson in a photograph taken by Sam Nzima after Pieterson was shot during the Soweto Uprising in 1976.Despite the photograph’s endurance, little is known about Mbuyisa. After the photograph was released, Mbuyisa was harassed by the security services, and was forced to flee South Africa.His mother, Nombulelo Makhubu, told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that she received a letter from him from Nigeria in 1978, but that she had not heard from him since.Nombulelo Makhubu died in 2004; and it very much seems she had no knowledge of what had happened to her son.Mbuyisa was one of a number of South African activists given refuge in Nigeria immediately following the Soweto Uprising.He was one of three who were settled in a boarding high school in South-Western Nigeria – Federal Government College, during the 1976-1977 academic year.But history records reveal that all of them failed to settle, and had moved on within the year.In 2013, claims emerged that a man, Victor Vinnetou, imprisoned in Canada for the previous eight years on immigration charges was Mbuyisa. And genetic tests were conducted to determine whether the man was indeed Mbuyisa Makhubo.It was later reported that the DNA tests did not substantiate the man’s claim to be Makhubu, to the disappointment of Mbuyisa’s family, though the DNA test was reported to have been done on a family memberwithout blood relations to both parents.And as of 2020, Mbuyisa’s whereabouts still remained unknown. The same year of 2020, a four-episode documentary titled Through The Cracks, which was released on the 44th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising on June 16, 2020, provided some previously untold details about Mbuyisa’s life.It was also reported that a heritage plaque commemorating Mbuyisa would be installed on June 16, 2020 as well.It is high time the South African government takes this matter seriously; and in fact makes it a governmental priority so that the Makhubu family can move a step closer to finishing this chapter and in the process to get healing.

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