EWN Special Report: Canadian man thought to be Mbuyisa Makhubu spent 12 years in jail

In 2013, govt announced that Victor Vinnetou may be Mbuyisa Makhubu, but a DNA test was inconclusive.

FILE: The iconic photograph taken of Hector Pieterson, who was killed during the Soweto uprising in 1976. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News has learnt that a Canadian man, suspected of possibly being June 16 icon Mbuyisa Makhubu, was released from detention after 12 years.

Victor Vinnetou appeared before a hearing of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) after refusing to cooperate with authorities there for over a decade.

In 2013, the South African government announced that Vinnetou may be Makhubu, but an initial DNA test proved to be inconclusive.

The Canadian Border Services Agency says Vinnetou was in detention for 12 years because it could not confirm his country of origin.

Spokesperson Travis O'Brien says, "He was detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, between 11 August 2004 and 16 January 2016, because his identity could not be determined."

In December last year however, Vinnetou told a hearing that he is not Makhubu and he was ambushed by South African officials in 2013, who pressured him into saying he was the icon who carried Hector Pieterson.

Vinnetou says he is a South African who comes from Musina in Limpopo.

He has been released from custody and is staying at a shelter in Toronto.

He's declined to give an interview but speaking through his lawyer, has told Eyewitness News he is not Makhubu.

Meanwhile, the IRB says they have not been able to establish his true identity.

O'Brien says, "He has chosen not to provide his name and country of birth, nor to participate with efforts to confirm his identity. Confirmation of identity is required in order to obtain travel acumen from the country of origin and allow for an individual's removal."

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_.