It is a sad Women's Month as South Africa mourns the death of struggle icon Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe, affectionately known as "the mother of Azania".
Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe, widow of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, passed away on the morning of 15 August.
Briefly.co.za reported that the late struggle fighter and nurse spent 3 weeks in the Midland Hospital in Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape but she passed away at home.
Who was The mother of Azania?
Zondeni, better known as Veronica, was born on July 27, 1927, in Hlobane, KwaZulu-Natal.
Veronica met Robert Sobukwe in 1949, in the struggle and she always called their meeting “love at first sight”.
Robert was the president of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at Fort Hare University and Veronica was a trainee nurse at Victoria Hospital in Lovedale.
Veronica was one of the leaders of a strike by the nurses over labour disputes with the management of the hospital. This got the attention of the Robert and other students.
Veronica was expelled from her college because of her involvement in the strike. She travelled to Johannesburg with a friend to deliver a letter from the Fort Hare ANC Youth League to Walter Sisulu, asking him for help.
During this time Veronica and Robert grew closer and they got married in 1950/1953. During his fight against the apartheid regime, Veronica stood by her husband. He was the founder of the Pan-African Congress.
Veronica stood by Robert when he gave himself up for arrest in protest against the pass laws.
Robert was given 3 years in jail but he was not released when his time was over. Instead, the apartheid government enacted the “Sobukwe Clause” - allowing them to keep him in jail for as long as they wanted.
In 1963, Robert was moved to Robben Island and kept in isolation. Even when he was ill, the government refused to release him from prison.
He was finally released from prison in 1969. All throughout his time in jail, Veronica supported him and spoke out about his treatment.
In 1997 Veronica testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about the role she believed the government had in Robert's death because they didn't allow him to receive the medical care he needed.
Veronica and Sobukwe had 4 children, Miliswa, Dinilesizwe, Dalinyebo and Dedanizizwe.
Veronica was described as a loving and determined woman and she will be dearly missed by her loved ones.
Special thanks to SAHistory for their invaluable information on the men and women who made a difference in our country.
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