Where is Mbuyisa Makhubo?

2013-12-24 00:00

MBUYISA Makhubo was the teenager captured in Sam Nzima’s iconic photo of June 16, 1976 — fleeing the bullets of the apartheid police on a street in Soweto and carrying the murdered Hector Peterson in his arms, with the latter’s sister, Antoinette, running alongside.

Another decade on and we still don’t know what happened to him. Or do we? The Toronto Star last month reported on the story of a missing South African hero. In 1988, a man by the name of Victor Vinnetou arrived in Canada from Germany and applied for refugee status. He had named himself “Victor” as an aspiration and “Vinnetou”, apparently after the hero of an eighties German TV show. While manoeuvring through the refugee system, he disappeared into the fabric of Toronto, where he made a life, albeit a precarious one. Vinnetou was arrested almost 10 years ago for being undocumented. Toronto police routinely frisk black men — their presence seemingly always suspicious. He has since been held in indefinite detention while various states seek to define him.

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