The remains of 14 activists, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and Azanian National Liberation Army (Azanla) cadres, were returned to their families on Friday more than 20 years after their death.
Killed between 1981 and 1986 the freedom fighters were lauded at a handover in Freedom Park, Pretoria, as martyrs who sacrificed their lives for freedom from apartheid.
The remains of activists Jeremiah Ntuli, Morris Nkabinde, Jeremiah Magagula, Steven Makena, Rooiband Geldenhuys, Samuel Masilela, Thomas Phiri, Elliot Sathege, Phillip Sibanyoni, Abram Makolane, known as the Mamelodi 10, MK operative Duncan Molehe of the Nietverdient Four, Petrus Ramodiehe Waisi and David Takalani Nembaye, of the Mmabatho Two, and Azanla cadres Petrus Phaswane Masango and Petrus Mkobi, known as the Zeerust Two, were exhumed from different graves where they were buried as paupers last year.
They will be reburied later this year.
Former MK veteran Charles Setsubi said the 15 were "fallen martyrs" whose "political consciousness" meant that they knew "their enemy better than they knew themselves".
Nembaye's brother, Hyson Musandiwa, said the ceremony would help the family heal.
"We knew he was dead. We needed his bones back so we could find closure," Musandiwa said.
"His was not an ordinary life. It was a sacrifice we as the family are very proud of. Accepting his remains today wipes away the pain of uncertainty that engulfed us for 22 years."
Musandiwa said his brother left for Botswana in 1976.
Nembaye and Waisi were in Mmabatho when they were killed by security police on January 3 1986.
"They would not tell us what they were doing in Mmabatho," he said. "They left a message with Petrus's girlfriend, saying they were on a dangerous mission.
"If they were not back in three days she should know something very bad had happened to them."