Unreserved apology to the PAC, Sobukwe Family and Sobukwe’s legacy
14 February 2019
On Tuesday, 12 February 2019, during my address on “The National Question: Race, Class and Gender”, at the Liliesleaf Farm in Johannesburg, I made comments regarding the unforgivable segregatory approach that was followed by the apartheid regime with regard to the treatment of prisoners, specifically Robben Island prisoners. In emphasising the point, I included the name of Professor Robert Sobukwe as an example.
I hereby furnish an unreserved apology to the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), the Sobukwe family and to his legacy. I fully respect the Prof’s contribution to the liberation struggle.
Sobukwe’s incarceration was imposed by an illegitimate racist apartheid regime and the Prof had no control of their actions. He accordingly suffered greatly, isolated from other prisoners as another form of torture. That the apartheid regime even went to the extent of inserting the “Sobukwe Clause” in the General Law Amendment Act of 1963 – which empowered the Minister of Justice to prolong the detention of any political prisoner indefinitely – to empower itself to continue his illegal incarceration is indeed an unforgivable act by the disgraced apartheid regime.
Notwithstanding the apartheid regime’s deliberate segregation, our movement indeed regarded all the apartheid prisoners as political prisoners. I remain respectful of all political prisoners from different persuasions and ideologies, including Professor Robert Sobukwe. My late younger brother, Jomo Walter, belonged to PASO, to the PAC and its military wing, the Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA). We never denied his affiliation and activism in the PAC. At my brother’s funeral, the political programme was handed over to the PAC and APLA, and also to the South African National Defence Force.
This morning I met the leadership of the PAC, President Narius Moloto, to express my apology. I have also spoken with the Sobukwe family, through Dini Sobukwe, to express my profound apology and will create time to visit the family in person. I will also engage other leaders of the PAC on the matter.
While my apology regarding the above subject is unreserved, it remains necessary that I clear some distortions that have been made by some elements in the media. In my address, I never said, and never did I infer, that Sobukwe colluded with the apartheid regime or betrayed the struggle. Of course I must concede that this distortion followed the posture I adopted on the presentation of this matter. I could have been more restrained.
Lastly, I must reiterate the point that it was the apartheid regime that incarcerated Professor Robert Sobukwe, created the “Sobukwe Clause” and kept him separate from the rest of the prisoners in Robert Island. The segregation was committed by the apartheid regime for its own racist ends. These acts remain the sins of the apartheid regime and remain unforgivable.
Issued by Solly Mapaila, 14 February 2019