Zondeni Sobukwe to be laid to rest on Saturday

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Struggle stalwart, Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe, also widow to the late founder of the PAC member, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, will be laid to rest on Saturday, in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape.

Sobukwe has been afforded a Special Official Funeral Category 2, and her remains will be buried next to her husband, Robert Sobukwe, whose grave is a national heritage site.

Sobukwe was born on the 27 July, 1927, in KwaZulu-Natal.  She was a trainee nurse at Victoria Hospital at Lovedale, in the Eastern Cape, where she was later expelled after leading a strike on labour dispute.

Sobukwe, also known as “Mama Azania” played an important role in the liberation struggle. She was subsequently awarded the Order of Luthuli in honour of her tenacious fight for freedom and her steadfast support of incarcerated freedom fighters.

She died on 15 August at 91 surrounded by her family, shortly after being discharged from the Midlands Hospital, in Graaff-Reinet. She has been described by many as a heroin, whose spirit will live on.

A family member, Nontobeko Buyise says she’ll always remember Mama Sobukwe as a humble soul, who always spoke softly.

“I will remember my aunt, as a humble person, who had a soft voice but very strict. She was a person who wanted things to be done properly at all times, she never took time to correct you, with her soft voice. At times there would be a language barrier, as she was Zulu and I speak Xhosa, but she was very patient,” says Buyise.

Sobukwe’s role in the church has also been recognised, with her church named after her. Church leader, Xolani Namandla says he’ll remember her as a warrior for justice.

“One of the values that she instilled in us was honesty, one of her principles, she believed in fighting for injustice. As you recall in 1941, she was one of the leaders who fought for the injustice that was experienced by nurses then,” says Namandla.

Sobukwe also founded an old age home, the Veronica Sobukwe Old Age. Part of the duties of the centre is to transport old disadvantaged people from their communities to hospital. An employee at this centre, Sizeka Rasomti says Sobukwe was a people’s person, who always wore a big smile on her face.

“She really loved people, she was ever smiling, we loved taking pictures with her as our elderly, and we wanted blessings. She was very modest and humble and that is why we honour her. She was our mother,”  says Rasomti.

Deputy president, David Mabuza is expected to deliver the eulogy.