072 Veteran Photographer, Sam Nzima is surrounded by his pictures of 1976 June 16 riots at his home studio at Liliesdale in Mpumalanga. He settled here where he was born after his life was threatened by the apartheid government for taking the famous photo of a dying Hector Pieterson in Soweto. 090613. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress and President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday expressed deep sadness  at the death of renowned veteran photographer Masana Samuel “Sam” Nzima, 83, who died on Saturday evening at Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.

"Nzima, the recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga in bronze, belonged to a generation of fearless activist photojournalists who used the might of their lenses to tell truth to power," ANC spokesman Pule Mabe said on Sunday.

"His generation courageously confronted the apartheid system and regime by ensuring that the stories of the oppressed masses who yearned for freedom in their lifetime are not relegated to the periphery of history.

"His emotive iconic June 16, 1976 photograph of Mbuyisa Makhubu carrying the fatally wounded Hector Pieterson away from the rioting crowd at the Soweto student uprising became a historical landmark feature that forever defined how the June 16, 1976 narrative was told," Mabe said.

ALSO READ: Legendary photographer Sam Nzima dies at 83

Ramaphosa meanwhile, said he was saddened by Nzima's passing and hailed the veteran photographer as "one of a kind".

"His camera captured the full brutality of apartheid oppression on the nation’s psyche and history from the Defiance Campaign through to forced removals and the Soweto student uprisings. 

"We will especially remember his iconic photograph of a dying young Hector Peterson which became a symbol of resistance against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in the black schools. We convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and may his soul rest in peace.”

For his “excellent contribution to photojournalism and putting the brutality of the apartheid police in the international spotlight”, Nzima was honored with the Order of Ikhamanga in bronze in 2011, which recognises South Africans who excel in arts, culture, literature, music, journalism, and sport.

Among other accolades, Nzima’s photo earned him a spot in Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential photographs ever taken. "The ANC sends our heartfelt condolences to Sam Nzima’s family and loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this very difficult time of grief," Mabe said.

African News Agency/ANA