Botswana Congress Party veteran, Michael Dingake and former Robben Island inmate , says that if the man in a Canadian jail who is believed to be Mbuyisa Makhubu is truly him, then “he (Makhubu) is a traumatised man.”
Makhubu is famous for appearing in the iconic picture where he was photographed carrying a lifeless Hector Pieterson during the Soweto Uprising on the 16th of June 1976. Makhubu disappeared after being harassed by apartheid era police and was believed to have been living in Nigeria.
According to Dingake, he was in jail at Robben Islands the time Makhubu disappeared. “I personally do not know him because by the time he disappeared I was in prison. I read about him and by the time when all this happened he was a teenager, he was a student. The pictures that made him popular were all over,” he said.
“Obviously he never got any counselling. Somehow he got deranged, maybe fearful to think of South Africa or think of having any relatives in South Africa and even Botswana. Trauma can affect people differently. If it’s him then this is a very very serious case that I’ve never heard of before. I can acknowledge that it can happen,” he said.
He said the first thing to be done if it is him and it happens that he comes out of jail is to find him counselling. “Even though it is at a late stage he needs counselling. How do you really revive him psychologically from the situation he has been in, you have to do something about it. To exercise that it will take quite some time. They have to take him back step by step to where he has been and also meet people who might have known him through all these years,” he said.
According to South African media reports, the government of South Africa says they have been working with their Canadian counterparts for a month now and they are awaiting DNA results. Makhubu’s late mother at one point told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa that she did not know whether her son was alive or dead.
Should it be determined that it indeed Makhubu , the news might heal the wounds of his family in Orlando West where he was a resident and some of his family in Botswana. Makhubu is the father of popular DJ Thato Traxx Mokgele who declined to comment on the development in the search for the struggle hero.