Contralesa wants to meet with PAC after chaos at Sobukwe funeral

Zondeni Sobukwe's casket being carried
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Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) says it will call an urgent meeting with the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) factions to discuss what transpired at the funeral of Zondeni Sobukwe earlier on Saturday.

The funeral is no longer an official one and has been cut short. This after tensions engulfed proceedings due to PAC factions demanding that Sobukwe’s casket be draped in the party flag and not the South African flag.

Deputy President, David Mabuza, who was due to deliver the eulogy at the funeral in Graaff-Reniet in the Eastern Cape, left the venue for security reasons. The casket has now been draped in the PAC flag.

Contralesa General-Secretary, Zolani Mkiva has described what happened at the funeral as unacceptable. “We do not like what we see happening. As traditional leaders, we cannot sit back and allow this chaos to happen unattended. We have taken a decision as Contralesa to engage the leadership of the PAC. This thing needs to come to a stop and we are saying to all the factions of the PAC that we are summoning them.”

Mama Sobukwe, the widow of PAC founder Robert Sobukwe, passed away last week at the age of 91. Government dignitaries have left the venue.

“It is a sad day for Mama and sadly we have had to withdraw as government. She was granted an official funeral, category 2, which then meant that the people of SA are saying thank you and appreciate your activism. But because of the disruptions the government cut short the programme. Yes, we have removed the SA flag and the PAC activists have taken over,” says Government Communications Deputy Director General, Phumla Williams.

The widow of the Black Consciousness Movement leader Steve Biko, Ntsiki Biko,  has described Zondeni Sobukwe as an extraordinary woman.

This was Biko’s tribute to Mama Sobukwe: “Being here at Graaff-Reniet today to attend this funeral of this wonderful woman takes my mind back to the days when we buried our leader, our father Utata URobert Mangaliso Sobukwe on the 11March 1978. It was one of those sad moments. When you lose a father, it’s not easy, but today we’re talking about losing a mother, it’s even worse.”