The remains of African National Congress (ANC) stalwart Johnny Makhathini were welcomed by hundreds of people at the Durban International Airport on Saturday night.
Makhathini’s remains were exhumed in Zambia on Saturday morning by a government delegation led by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Makhathini died in exile on December 3 1988 and his remains will be reburied on February 27 in Pietermaritzburg.
Addressing about 200 people who welcomed Makhathini’s remains by singing liberation songs, Mkhize said Makhathini had “played a huge role in making the world know what the apartheid government was doing”.
“He was a dedicated freedom fighter,” said Mkhize.
Makhathini’s coffin was carried by former Umkhonto weSizwe soldiers, who also formed the delegation that went to Zambia.
Makhathini’s wife, Valerie and his daughter Nandi, who live in Atlanta in the United States, were also in Zambia to witness the exhumation.
‘We would like to thank president [Kenneth] Kaunda for the role he played during the struggle. He welcomed us and gave us shelter,”said Mkhize.
He said Kaunda had told them that he was introduced to Makhathini by former ANC president Oliver Tambo.
Speaking in Zambia before Makhathini’s remains were flown to South Africa, the former Zambian president described Makhathini as a dedicated and fearless freedom fighter.
‘He was an eloquent debater at the United Nations where he represented the people of South Africa,” Kaunda said. – Sapa