Mthethwa hails Kotane & Marks

Moses Kotane and JB Marks left South Africa for Russia in 1963, in the fight against apartheid.

FILE: Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa. Picture: lesego Ngobeni/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa says those unfamiliar with JB Marks and Moses Kotane can't claim to know South Africa's history.

Kotane and Marks left South Africa for Russia in 1963 at the request of former African National Congress (ANC) President Oliver Tambo to lobby the international community to rally behind the fight against apartheid.

They both died in a Moscow hospital in the 1970s after short illnesses.

President Jacob Zuma met with Russian federal leader Vladimir Putin in August last year to have their remains returned to their families.

Mthethwa left for Russia yesterday along with other government officials for the exhumation and repatriation of the liberation stalwarts.

He says the pair had been instrumental in defining the freedom and democracy that the country enjoys today.

"Both Kotane and Marks represent a generation, and perhaps unsung and unknown heroes, who played a pivotal role in the intellectual development of our society, and contributed to the national discourse to define our ideas."

Kotane will be reburied at his home in Phela while Marks will be buried in Ventersdorp next month.

Their remains are expected to arrive back in South Africa next Monday.