Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthethwa has advised families of whose members died in foreign countries to approach their provincial governments, in order for the repatriation of the remains to be started.

Mthethwa spoke to the SABC at the reburial of Moses Kotane’s remains. “Even though the matter was handled at the national level, with maKotane speaking to the representatives in the province where a person or an individual comes from has to take a decision – an executive decision at an executive level.”

“To that extent, I want to thank the North West under premier Supra Mahumapelo, who were able to immediately take action, because without that, at the national level, it would be difficult to move easily,” adds Mthethwa.

The remains of struggle icons Kotane and JB Marks arrived in South Africa earlier this month. Political activist and trade unionist Marks served as president of the Transvaal Branch of the African National Congress and was elected chairperson of the SA Communist Party in 1962. In 1963 he was sent to the ANC external mission in Tanzania.

He became ill in 1971 and went to the then-Soviet Union. He died of a heart attack in Moscow the following year. Kotane was the secretary general of the SACP from 1939 until his death in 1978. He was selected to study at the Lenin School in Moscow.

Kotane, one of the first activists to be banned under the Suppression of Communism Act, suffered a stroke in 1968 and went for treatment in the then-Soviet Union, where he died in 1978. Both were buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

Kotane is being reburied in Pella, North West, on 14 March, while Marks would be reburied in Ventersdorp on 22 March.

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