Family will remember Zondeni Sobukwe for her 'humility and simplicity'

FILE PICTURE: Nelisa Sobukwe (left), Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe and family friend Vaida Sokopo during the handover of land for a memorial museum to Robert Sobukwe in Graaff-Reinet.
FILE PICTURE: Nelisa Sobukwe (left), Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe and family friend Vaida Sokopo during the handover of land for a memorial museum to Robert Sobukwe in Graaff-Reinet.
Image: BRIAN WITBOOI/The Herald

The Sobukwe family says it will remember Zondeni‚ the wife of Pan Africanist Congress founder Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe‚ for her “humility and simplicity”.

Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe died at 2am on Wednesday‚ aged 91‚ after being discharged from the Midlands provincial hospital in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday.

“The Sobukwe family is deeply grateful for the gift of her life and the innumerable lessons she leaves behind‚ and even as we mourn her passing‚ we celebrate her humility and the simplicity with which she approached and viewed life. Indeed‚ a great tree has fallen‚” the family said in a statement.

PAC president Narius Moloto told TimesLIVE earlier on Wednesday: “I can confirm that at around 2am‚ Mama Sobukwe died. We are sorry and saddened by her passing and wish to pass our condolences to the family.”

Moloto said Zondeni had been admitted to hospital six weeks ago.

The family described Zondeni as one of the most defiant and fearless icons of the struggle against racism and white supremacy in South Africa

Zondeni‚ according to the family‚ was born in Vryheid‚ KwaZulu-Natal.

“She had her first experiences of and direct confrontations with racism‚ the apartheid state and police at an early age‚ consistently challenging ruthless authorities and calling for justice on numerous occasions throughout her life.

“In her youth she participated and led protest marches against racist conditions imposed on trainee black nurses at Victoria hospital in Alice. Her leadership of this protest march resulted in her later meeting with Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe‚ the then Students’ Representative Council (SRC) president at the University of Fort Hare.

“Following the Sharpeville uprising on March 21 1960‚ Mama Sobukwe fiercely challenged the regime on the unjust conditions surrounding Robert Sobukwe's incarceration under the draconian Sobukwe Clause (which Parliament enacted‚ empowering the minister of justice to prolong the detention of any political prisoner indefinitely)‚ remained a backbone for her family and sacrificed her life for freedom and the vision of a liberated Azania (SA)‚" the statement read. According to the family‚ Zondeni dedicated most of her adult life to the cause of the Azanian people‚ which earned her the moniker ‘Mother of Azania’.

The family said it will release details of the memorial and funeral services once they have been finalised.

Struggle stalwart Zondeni Sobukwe has died on August 15 2018. Tributes have poured in for Zondeni, who was married to Pan Africanist Congress founder Robert Sobukwe.

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