Nat Nakasa to be reburied at Heroes’ Acre

Nat Nakasa. Image courtesy:

Nat Nakasa. Image courtesy:

The remains of renowned anti-apartheid journalist Nat Nakasa, buried in the United States after his death there in 1965, will finally be returned to South Africa, Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa announced last week.

Mthethwa made the announcement during his address at the Nat Nakasa Awards held in Cape Town on Friday. Calls, mainly from the media fraternity, have been mounting for the return of the former Drum magazine writer’s body to the country.

Mthethwa said that his newly-assigned department had worked with the KwaZulu-Natal premier’s office, the Ethikwini municipality and the South African consulate in New York to make this a reality.

A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court of New York, County of Westchester, granted the government permission to exhume and repatriate Nakasa’s body, he said – “exactly 50 years after Nakasa left South Africa, and on the 20th anniversary of our freedom and democracy”.

The government would work closely with the KwaZulu-Natal government to make arrangements for the reburial at Heroes’ Acre in Chesterville.

“The reburial will inscribe his name in our annals as one of the selfless South Africans who paid the ultimate price for us to attain the freedom we enjoy today.”

Born in Durban in 1937, Nakasa, a journalist and short story writer, was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism at Harvard College in the US in 1964. He had written for Drum, the Golden City Post and the Rand Daily Mail. The apartheid government rejected his application for a passport, forcing him to leave on an exit permit – on which he could not return.

He died a year later after falling from a high-rise building in an apparent suicide, and was buried at the Ferncliff Cemetery in upstate New York.

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