APLA military veterans carry the coffin of Vuyani Ndinisa. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

East London - The remains of Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) freedom fighter Vuyani Ndinisa were repatriated on Friday after being buried in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 48 years ago. 

A delegation led by the Eastern Cape's MEC for sports, recreation, arts and culture - Bulelwa Tunyiswa - travelled to the DRC on January 26 to oversee the exhumation and repatriation of Ndinisa. He will be buried in his home town of Keiskammahoek. 

Tunyiswa was accompanied by Ndinisa's daughter, Nomhle Ndinisa-Mjo, who had been on a quest to find the remains of her father for years. 

Fifty-four-year-old Ndinisa-Mjo said she had only known her father through photographs. 

"From the age of eight, I started asking questions about him. What was known then was that he went abroad, but no one knew which country. It was in 2014 through another former Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA) combatant that I was led to Mr. Kgosana, who was with him in DRC," said Ndinisa-Mjo. APLA was the PAC's military wing. 

"I contacted Mr Kgosana and discovered that he had been searching for members of my family in order to tell us about where my father was buried," said Ndinisa-Mjo. 

Kgosana was meant to be part of the delegation but died in 2017.  

Ndinisa left the country in 1966, aged 30, after joining the liberation struggle, and received military training in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

In 1970, together with PAC stalwart Phillip Kgosana, Ndinisa moved to the DRC to help train Angolan soldiers during that country's fight for freedom. 

Ndinisa was involved in a car accident in the DRC in 1971 and later died there in 1973. He was buried at Le Marinel Military Graveyard in the town of Kolwezi.

Tunyiswa said Ndinisa was among hundreds of former freedom fighters that the Eastern Cape government was seeking to repatriate and bury closer to their families. The province established a repatriation committee to carry out the task.

"We saw it fitting to go and find him when the Ndinisa family had an idea of the whereabouts of his remains," said Tunyiswa. 

Former APLA combatant Zamikhaya Gxabe said a journey into exile was a "one-way ticket with no guarantees of coming back alive". 

"We were driven by one thing, to liberate our country and our continent, Africa. It was not an easy mission, we were not only dealing with the [apartheid] enemy, there were language barriers and cultural differences; but we trained and fought together," said Gxabe. 

A date has not yet been set for Ndinisa's funeral. 

African News Agency (ANA)