Today marks 45 years since the founding leader of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) Robert Sobukwe died at the Kimberley Hospital in the Northern Cape in 1978. This was after his lungs had collapsed following his battle with lung cancer.
According to Sobukwe ‘s biography on SA History online, he founded the PAC in 1958 after breaking away from the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League. The apartheid government had jailed Sobukwe for three years for incitement – after he organised a march against ‘pass laws’ in Sharpville on March the 21st 1960 – now known as Human Rights Day.
When Sobukwe was supposed to be released after three years, he was kept in jail and re-sentenced through a law, the so-called “Sobukwe clause”.
The “Sobukwe clause” was developed and renewed every year just to keep him in jail on Robben Island where he was kept in solitary confinement.
He was only released from Robben Island and banished to Galeshewe in Kimberley in 1969. He lived in Naledi Street at Sobantu, in Galeshewe.
Sobukwe also practiced as a lawyer in Kimberley. He died at the Kimberley Hospital on 27 February 1978. The hospital was renamed Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital on Heritage day in September 2018.
WATCH KIMBERLEY HOSPITAL RENAMED AFTER SOBUKWWE:
Meanwhile, PAC leader Mzwanele Nyhontso, who says he visited Sobukwe’s grave at Graaf-Reinet on Saturday, has described him as a pacesetter. As he pays tribute to his founding leader, Nyontsho emphasises that Sobukwe’s legacy will not be separated from the party he founded, the PAC.
“We commemorate his legacy every year and this year is no exception. We remember him as a revolutionary, a pacesetter, and a leader of the African people par excellence. As his disciples, we promised the prof that we will preserve his revolutionary legacy and resist any temptation to try and separate Sobukwe from his beloved PAC. Izwelethu!!!”
“Mangaliso Sobukwe belonged to a school of thought that upholds the African personality. The restoration of human dignity to the colonised and those who were made slaves. He insisted that the mind must be decolonised and the slave mentality must go. In this year, the rest of what is physical, the liberation of the land and its mineral resources would be totally achieved, but Sobukwe emphasised upward character, absolute honesty, integrity and above all, the love for Africa and its people. We are proud in the PAC to be following his legacy in his steps and his leadership”, Nyontsho concludes.