EWN Special Report: What happened to the man who carried Hector Pieterson?

Mbuyisa Makhubu famously carried a dying Pieterson during the 16 June Soweto Uprising.

FILE: The iconic photograph taken of Hector Pieterson, who was killed during the Soweto uprising in 1976, displayed at the Hector Pieterson museum in Soweto. Picture: Reinart Toerien.

JOHANNESBURG - The family of missing 1976 icon Mbuyisa Makhubu have made a desperate appeal for anyone with information to please approach them.

Makhubu famously carried a dying Hector Pieterson during the 16 June Soweto Uprising, a moment captured for posterity by photographer Sam Nzima.

As a result, Makhubu became the most wanted man in Soweto and fled into exile where he disappeared two years later.

For nearly four decades, Makhubu's family have been wondering about what happened to him.

He disappeared in Nigeria in 1979 and speculation has swirled about whether he's dead or alive.

"We have heard different stories from people and you never know what the truth is."

This week, on the fortieth anniversary of the student march, his sister Nsiki is pleading for information.

"My plea to them is that we want to know what happened, and where we can find him."

Three years ago it emerged that a prisoner in detention in Canada may be Makhubu, but attempts to confirm a match have now stalled.

Makhubu was just 18 years old when he fled Soweto.

Ntsiki says the last letter he sent the family was in 1978, and he disappeared in January the following year.

"It doesn't matter if you send us an SMS or a letter. Somebody please [help], it's been so long."

Various stories have emerged about what happened to him, but Makhubu has never been found.


The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)'s Missing Persons task team says Makhubu's fate is still not known.

Madeleine Fullard, head of the Missing Persons Unit at the NPA, says they are still investigating his disappearance.

"We're mainly focused on trying to establish the facts on his disappearance, simply in terms of place, date and circumstances.

"So far we have established the time frame and the location of his disappearance which was unclear before, but his subsequent fate is not known."

For a four-part podcast series & to find out more about Mbuyisa Makhubu go to EWN 's special feature 'Through the Cracks: The untold story of Mbuyisa Makhubu'.

To listen to 'Through the Cracks, the Untold Story of Mbuyisa Makhubu', click here.